Love in the Time of Fentanyl

By Paul Durber, with Jane Gurr


A free screening of the award-winning Canadian documentary film, Love in the Time of Fentanyl, will take place at the ByTowne Cinema on Saturday, October 28 at 11 a.m. – the first Ottawa screening of the film, open to everyone.

As many of us are aware, a growing number of people in our neighbourhoods use drugs and suffer the increasing dangers of drug contamination that tragically include death. Ottawa Public Health records show a 117-per-cent increase in opioid deaths in Ottawa between 2019 and 2022.

But what isn’t seen or understood is the human face of this tragedy. Who are the people that we see on streets even here in the Glebe? Why is this happening to them? What can and should we be doing to help them? Can we do more to support the frontline workers who care for them?

Directed by Colin Askey and filmed in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside, Love in the Time of Fentanyl offers an unflinching view of the daily lives of drug users and the people who work to keep them alive. Released in 2022, the film follows several clients and staff of Vancouver’s Overdose Prevention Society, as they struggle with addiction and the monumental challenges it presents, remarkably still lightened by some fun.

In an interview for the May 2022 edition of POV Magazine, Askey summed the film: “I think the best way to combat something like that is to just allow an audience to walk beside, in a space that is rarely seen. Some of these sites are seen in news clips but there’s never really been a film that’s a day-in-the-life-inside-an-injection-site before.”

Characters in the film had a trust with Askey, allowing him to capture their most vulnerable moments, including their drug use, telling their personal stories, and revealing their profound humanity. We witness harm reduction workers, with few resources doing their best to prevent isolation and death among community members. The toll of the countless lives lost affects them deeply.

The screening is organized by Soul Space Ottawa, a non-profit organization within First United Church that works to support the spiritual care needs of street health, harm reduction, community and social service workers in Ottawa. www.soulspaceottawa.

After the screening, at 1 p.m., everyone is welcome to the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre to talk about the film, to enjoy refreshment and food and to celebrate frontline workers. Come and learn about drug addiction, from users themselves, and to make a human connection and understand what we can do to help.


Paul Durber is a member of the Soul Space Steering Committee. He lives in the Glebe and is deeply concerned about the opioid crisis in his community. Jane Gurr is a Soul Space volunteer.


Love in the Time of Fentanyl
1h 22min running time
Saturday, October 28, 11 a.m.
ByTowne Cinema
325 Rideau Street
Free screening and open to everyone.

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