Living On

Living On is an experimental film project series that brings together young people who use(d) drugs, researcher Danya Fast, and filmmakers in Vancouver.

Imagined in collaboration with the youth narrator, these short films allow young people to author and illustrate their own stories about drug use, recovery, care, overdose and living through loss. They move beyond familiar, often stigmatizing, images of drug use in Vancouver in order to develop alternative visual vocabularies for telling these stories.


Episode 1 “BFF” (2020, Directed by Leah Nelson, Kiddo Films)

In our pilot film, images and words are used to evoke the joy and pain of childhood, friendship, drug use, and recovery. Idyllic images such as a birthday party were inspired by the narrator’s own childhood, as well as more recent experiences of “taking a cake” to mark one year of sobriety in Twelve Step programs.

Episode 2 “Family” (2022, Directed by Sebastian Hill-Esbrand, Kiddo Films **Gold Medal Winner, Cannes Lions International Film Festival, Young Director)

Our second episode explores how things come together and fall apart as new families are created over time.

Episode 3 “Home” (2022, Directed by Darcy Hennessey, Kiddo Films)

Our third episode focuses on the sense of home that can be found in another person (even when they are gone), and how tremendous loss can be tied to new beginnings.

Who these videos are for

These videos are for young people who use drugs and those who love and care for them, as well as for providers and educators and the general public. Each episode is dedicated to a young person who has been lost to the toxic drug supply crisis.

How to use them

    • In courses with a focus on understanding the diverse experiences and perspectives of young people who use drugs in Vancouver
    • In courses with a focus on creative, arts-based, and community-based participatory approaches to knowledge mobilization and storytelling
    • In schools to improve drug literacy

Discussion questions for improving drug literacy

    • How do drugs impact the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and societies?
    • Drug use among young people is a complex social issue, and these episodes are intended to help us think beyond binaries like good versus bad and harmful versus helpful. Can you find examples from the episodes of both positive and negative impacts of drugs on young people and their relationships to themselves and each other?
    • What are some of the diverse reasons that young people use drugs?
    • What are some of the diverse reasons that they might want to reduce or stop their drug use?
    • One of the primary responses to drug use among young people is increased access to drug use treatment. What other kinds of responses are important?
    • What can each of us do to address the complex issue of drug use among young people?

Credit to CISUR at University of Victoria.

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