Episode available within Canada only.

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

Credits (Click to expand)

written by
Manfred Becker

directed by
Manfred Becker & Karen Wookey

produced by
Karen Wookey

executive producer
Robert Cohen

co-executive producer
Melanie Brobyn

Deborah Palloway cce

director of photography
Daniel Williams

original music composed by
Evelyne Datl

production manager
Simon Gebski

production coordinator
Jonas Jacobs

production accountant
Ingrid Crozier

Tracey Ogonoski
Diane Znamierowski

camera operators
Chris Matthews
Joe Queenan
Richard Rotter

sound recordists
Jason Hopfner
Adam White

camera assistant
Brendan Mullin

graphic effects artist
Philip Radu

assistant editors
Lee Cochran
Nathan McCormick
James Young

visual research & clearances
Maggie McCaw

post production coordinator
Matt Crispo

Arlene Moelker

online/packaging editor
Terry Aquino

dialogue/sound effects/sound design editor
Chris Russell

sound design supervisor/re-recording mixer
Daniel Pellerin

additional music by
Jingle Punks

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
Shutterstock/Alexander Gold

special thanks
Kim & Adam Donovan
Theresa Tam
Eileen de Villa
Danial Schecter
Murray Goldman
Andrew Galloway

for the CBC
General manager, programming
Sally Catto

executive director, unscripted content
Jennifer Dettman

senior director, documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

senior director of production, unscripted content
Alexandra Lane

executive in charge of production
Charlotte Engel