SE02 – The Canadian Psychiatric Association at the Movies: Love in the Time of Fentanyl

SE02 – The Canadian Psychiatric Association at the Movies: Love in the Time of Fentanyl

Friday, Oct. 20
14:30 – 16:30 (2 hrs)
Meeting Room: Junior Ballroom D (3rd floor – North Tower)
Harry Karlinsky*, MD, FRCPC; Bill MacEwan, MD, FRCPC; Sarah Blyth

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Medical Expert
  2. Health Advocate
  3. Collaborator

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Identify the potential benefits of harm-reduction strategies; 2) Appreciate the impact of burnout on frontline responders in communities devastated by the overdose crisis; and 3) Recognize the medium of film as a powerful educational tool in promoting reflective discussion.

” . . . intimate and revealing—quietly but firmly humanizing drug use and the people who engage in it.” -Paloma Pacheco, POV Magazine

A public health emergency around what came to be known as ‘the overdose crisis’ was first declared in BC in April 2016—the same year the grassroots Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) began offering its harm-reduction services. In the intervening seven years, a staggering 11,171 deaths in BC have been attributed to this ongoing crisis. Supporters of OPS are convinced this number would be much higher if not for their frontline efforts. Having moved from their first location, a tent, to their current space on East Hastings Street, the OPS provides a safe, warm, nonjudgemental drop-in where people can test their drugs, pick up clean needles, and inject in safety, as well as access other services. Using a fly-on-the-wall observational approach, Askay’s film portrays both the community members who work at OPS (most whom are either current or former drug users) with the same clear-eyed compassion as those who use its services.

“Director Colin Askey doesn’t gloss over the frequently grim reality of serious substance use disorders . . . but he insists on the humanity of drug users and the communities they call home.” Kate Knibbs, Wired

Winner – DOXA’s Colin Low Award for Best Canadian Director

Post-screening discussion with Dr. Bill MacEwan and Sarah Blyth


  1. Young S, Fairbairn N. Expanding supervised injection facilities across Canada: lessons from the Vancouver experience. Can J Public Health 2018;109(2):227–230.
  2. Panagiotoglou D. Evaluating the population-level effects of overdose prevention sites and supervised consumption sites in British Columbia, Canada: controlled interrupted time series. PLoS One 2022;17(3):e0265665.