In her documentary film, student researcher Kayla Hagerty opens with a startling fact: in the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada experienced an 89% increase in deaths caused by apparent opioid overdoses.
This statistic is more than just a number to Hagerty, as her film – My Dad, Ian: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the Pre-existing Opioid Epidemic in Canada – centres around the sudden death of her stepfather, Ian Harrington, who died of an accidental drug overdose just three months into lockdown.
The loss led to Hagerty – then a B.A. student in Human Rights and Social Justice and Sociology at Carleton University – completely pivoting her studies toward researching Canada’s opioid crisis.
That research resulted in the creation of a three-hour home-movie-style documentary featuring interviews with people who use drugs, people who no longer use, and those working in the harm reduction community in Hagerty’s hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.