At the time of production, new research was pointing to the fact that more and more parents were beginning to take on their own debt and work longer to pay for their adult children’s education. Our client, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, wanted to demonstrate this using video. They wanted to highlight the fact that when student’s max-out on the amount of money that can be borrowed, parents take on debt on their behalf.


In this script we used a three part narrative, inspired by Marshall Ganz’ ‘Story of Self, Story of Us, Story of Now’ method of crafting public narratives. First you meet Hannah and her family, and learn about Hannah’s choice in hairstyle, and her family’s trouble with finances. Then, Hannah’s story is made into something that is representative of many people’s stories, by pointing to the research showing that this family is not unique, or alone. Finally, viewers are invited to take a call to action, by sharing the video and talking about what they’ve learned, “so the Hannah’s of Canada and their families know they’re not alone.”


The client: The Canadian Alliance of Student Assocations

The writer/producer: I worked with the client to develop a script, sourced and recorded voice talent, shot the live-draw and produced the final product.

The artist: Marguerite Drescher from Brave Space storyboarded and drew the art for this video, and co-developed the creative approach.


Meet Hannah.

She’s a typical … [drawing]… Canadian…  [drawing]… student [more drawing].

And like most post-secondary students she’s trying to decide what she wants out of life.

Should she eat Kraft Dinner or Mr. Noodles?

Did she pick the right program?

Should her haircut be symmetrical or assymetrical?

Hannah’s parents are pretty typical too.

They’re confused by her assymetrical haircuts, but they still want her to do well in life, and they’d do anything to support her.

But Hannah has trouble making ends meet, and so do her parents.

Hannah has a student loan, but the loan doesn’t even cover her basic costs of living and tuition before it’s maxed out.

Hence her noodle dilemma.

Her parents have given her what they can, and are now working longer hours and taking on more of their own debt to help pay for her education.

Even though they can’t really afford to, her parents help her out anyway.

Hannah feels bad for asking, but she can’t afford not to.

They’re a part of a growing number of Canadians in the middle-class grappling with the rising cost of education.

Student aid isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do: ease the financial pressure on students so that they can worry about their grades instead of how they’ll pay tuition and rent.

Because of this, the student debt problem is growing into a family debt problem.

In order to help out their children, many parents are… [graph is illustrated]

– working more hours at a second job

– taking on more debt of their own

– depleting their retirement savings, and

– re-mortgaging their homes

Young people don’t *want* to put their parents into more debt, but the alternatives are even worse.

Credit cards, private debt, and payday loans are becoming commonplace, and they often leave students with poor repayment options and high interest rates.

Students and their families are ready to share the responsibility to pay for post-secondary education, but you can’t share what you don’t have.

We need governments to help tackle the challenges that many of us face, but are incapable of overcoming alone.

Paying for the rising cost of education is one of those challenges.

We can’t afford to think of post-secondary as a luxury for the privileged in our country.

The cost of university and college is the price of admission to a basic, middle-class Canadian lifestyle.

When the best option for a growing number of Canadian families is for parents to take on more debt at the end of their careers, just so their children can have the same quality of life they did, Canada has a problem.

And when Canada has a problem, our government needs to do something.

That is why the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations is calling on government and all parties to commit to investing in student financial aid. 

Help us spread the word: that the student debt problem is growing into a family debt problem for too many Canadians.

Share this video, so the Hannah’s of Canada and their families know they’re not alone.