UPDATE: Both Peter Saunders a.k.a “Rabbit” and Julian Sousa died in early November 2019. The producers of Saving Rabbit dedicate the film to their memories. If you or anyone you know is in crisis visit this resource to find out where you can get help.
Saving Rabbit is an intimate journey into the opioid crisis through the eyes of Peter, a.k.a. “Rabbit,” a 26-year-old addicted to opioids who is navigating the difficult path toward recovery.
Viewers first met Rabbit two years ago when he shared his story of living with homelessness and addiction in the CBC short documentary series Red Button. Rabbit struck a chord with Canadians and his video went viral, garnering more than a million views.
In Saving Rabbit, we delve deeper into Rabbit’s story and that of his father John as they both battle addiction and look for their own path to sobriety.
John uses fentanyl patches to treat decades of pain that resulted from a workplace accident. He is one of many Canadians suffering from addiction caused by what pain specialist Dr. Andrea Furlan says is a widespread overprescription of pain medication. In the documentary, Rabbit admits to stealing his father’s patches in the past due to his own addiction.
Through the story of Rabbit and his family, we also explore the complicated, controversial argument of harm reduction vs. abstinence that continues to be debated at all levels of the community and within the halls of government while thousands continue to die.
Rabbit believes harm reduction is the best way to keep himself and other addicts alive. Meanwhile Julian, a young man who has been in recovery from opioid addiction for more than two years, believes that sober living is the answer. He’s now passionate about helping others follow an abstinence-based approach to sobriety and has opened a private sober living facilitiy where people in recovery can learn to rebuild their lives. Julian hopes his own example will encourage Rabbit to find the will to change his life before it’s too late.
Photo credit: Justine Apple Photography
Manfred Becker & Karen Wookey
Deborah Palloway cce
director of photography
original music composed by
graphic effects artist
visual research & clearances
post production coordinator
dialogue/sound effects/sound design editor
sound design supervisor/re-recording mixer
additional music by
stock and archival material
CTV W5, A Division of Bell Media Inc.
Getty Images/BBC Motion Gallery Editorial/BBC News
Getty Images/Tribune Broadcasting - WGN, Chicago
Getty Images/Bloomberg Video - Footage
Michelle McBride & John Saunders
Rogers Media Inc.
House of Commons, Canada
Kim & Adam Donovan
Eileen de Villa
for the CBC
General manager, programming
executive director, unscripted content
senior director, documentary
senior director of production, unscripted content
executive in charge of production