Toronto History Museums launch virtual Awakenings program


TORONTO, 14 Dec. 2020 / CNW / – Today, Mayor John tory launched the Awakenings Program – a virtual series of art projects by Black, Indigenous and Colored artists. Awakenings is a new program that will feature art projects that explore untold stories, awaken a new perspective and invite audiences to join the conversation. The series is part of City of Toronto efforts to combat anti-black racism and will be released over the next two years.

Mayor Tory was joined by Deputy Mayor Michael thompson (Scarborough Center), Chairman of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee, as well as Cheryl blackman, director of museums and heritage services, renowned director Julien Christian Lutz pka director X, and choreographer Esie Mensah.

In July, the City hired more than $ 1.2 million in cultural and economic investments to fight anti-black racism. The Anti-Black Racism Unit and the City’s Economic Development and Culture Division have developed opportunities such as Awakenings to increase support for that of Toronto Black creative communities.

Toronto’s history museums have recognized the need to reassess the way they develop, deliver and evaluate their programming. In line with calls to action from Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in the museum sector, Toronto history museum sites are embracing partnerships that integrate Indigenous voices, stories and knowledge into programming, collections management and sites. The Awakenings program begins to address the lack of representation in the stories of that of Toronto the story. Over 80% of the creative people involved in Awakenings’ art projects come from black, indigenous and colored communities.

This month, Awakenings is kicking off with three online art projects and will also feature Awakenings Reflections: Behind-the-Scenes Discussions.

A revolution of love
A Revolution of Love is a digital short film that follows a young black woman as she grapples with the story of her ancestors and the current violence ravaging her community, and begins to imagine what her future looks like through dance. . Designed by an internationally renowned black creative team and featuring the words of Assata Shakur, this play highlights 15 women as they come together to reframe the revolution in the name of love. Esie Mensah choreographies, Weyni Mengesha co-directs, Lucius Dechausay co-directs and edits, and d’bi.young anitafrika composes in this digital short. “A Revolution of Love” was filmed at the Fort York National Historic Site of the Toronto History Museums, in partnership with the Soulpepper Theater.

Behind the curtain
In conversation with award-winning hip-hop recording artist and broadcaster Shad and multidisciplinary producer and artist Byron Kent Wong, Food Network host, award-winning restaurateur, author and recording artist Roger mooking reflects on the effects of racism on mental health and shares untold stories of his experiences growing up on the Canadian Prairies and working in the southern United States. The conversation explores how food, art, and music shaped his journey. The first part is launched today and the second part on January 12, 2021. Behind the Curtain was turned at the Montgomery’s Inn at Toronto History Museums,

We were still there
World-renowned director Julien Christian Lutz pka Director X, 10 emerging mentors Toronto– black, indigenous and colored filmmakers to present short films that aim to disrupt, discover and display colonial narratives. Each of the filmmakers focus on one of Toronto’s 10 history museums to highlight untold stories. Five of those films will launch this month.

Alarm Clock Working Group
The Awakenings Task Force was formed to develop art projects within Toronto’s History Museums, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism, sustainability, advocacy and storytelling. The working group includes:

  • Ashley McKenzie-Barnes, conservative
  • Dr. Julie nagam, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and Advisor in Indigenous Arts, Conservation and Museology for the City of Toronto
  • Julien Christian Lutz pka Director X
  • Mark V. Campbell, Creative & Scholar
  • Natasha Henri, President of the Ontario Black History Society
  • Roger mooking, Food Network host, award-winning restaurateur, author and recording artist
  • Weyni Mengesha, artistic director at Soulpepper Theater Company

The City recognizes the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 to 2024) and has aligned the Awakening program to achieve the goals of the Decade, which are recognition, justice and development.

The City is proud to welcome 106.5 ELMNT FM Toronto as a media partner for the program Awakenings.

Information and programming for the Awakenings program are available at Additional Awakenings programming will be available in 2021.

Media can access the promotional video for the Awakenings program at High resolution images are available at

In addition to the Awakenings program, Toronto’s History Museums have put their art and artifact collection online and are offering a new online shopping experience.

Collection of fine art and artifacts
The Toronto History Museums’ collection of fine arts and artifacts is now accessible through an online virtual database, available at This collection consists of 150,000 artefacts, 1.1 million archaeological specimens and 3,000 works of art that reflect the 11,000 years of human occupation of the Toronto Region.

Toronto History Museum Shop
Residents can shop safely from home for gifting season through a new online retail experience, the Museum Boutique, available at, powered by Shopify and the City of Toronto Digital Mainstreet program created with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA). The museum shop offers unique items, inspired by the city’s collection of artifacts that support local and indigenous artisans. Products include Indigenous crafts, handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, home decor, gardening supplies, reproductions, stationery, toys, educational items, and literature.


“As a city, we have made it clear that we will work hard to combat anti-black racism and make sure to support BIPOC residents in our city. This includes continued investments in the arts and our talented artists. The Awakenings Program at Toronto History Museums help fill identified programming and performance gaps. Now is the time to invest and create change as we work to confront and eradicate anti-black racism and all forms of racism in the many facets of our city.
– mayor John tory

“The new community-focused Awakenings programming of Toronto’s history museums will awaken audiences to new perspectives through diversity-based art in many forms. Museums work with creative people of Black, Indigenous, Color, New Canadian and multi-generational immigrant communities to reshape cultural perspectives, encourage self-reflection and promote accountability. “
– Deputy mayor Michael thompson (Scarborough Center), chairman of the city’s economic and community development committee

“Toronto History Museums are committed to following the recommendations of the Museums and First Peoples Task Force to effectively and respectfully co-develop new programs, exhibits and stories at our 10 sites.
Cheryl blackman, director of museums and heritage services

“We’ve always been there… Black, Aboriginal, multigenerational and colored immigrants have always been there, as have heritage sites; it will be a real awakening to that of Toronto the invisible story and our stories that need to be told. “
– Julien Christian Lutz pka Director X

“Our stories have been left out of the world narrative for centuries. We must move forward in healing and strengthening our truths in order to achieve a true sense of fairness and most importantly of oneness.”
Esie Mensah, choreographer

About Toronto History Museums
Toronto History Museums are a group of 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto who bring that of Toronto life story for residents and visitors. They include Colborne Lodge, Fort York National Historic Site, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Market Gallery, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, Spadina Museum, Todmorden Mills and Zion Schoolhouse. More information is available at, or follow Toronto History Museums on Twitter at, on Instagram at, on Facebook at and on YouTube at

Toronto is home to over 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city from Canada a leading economic engine and one of the most diverse and enjoyable cities in the world. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently ranks at the top of international rankings thanks to investments supported by its government, residents and its businesses. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at, on Instagram at or on Facebook at

SOURCE Toronto Special Events Ltd.

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