The City of Toronto launched the Awakenings program – a virtual series of art projects by Black, Indigenous and artists of colour. Awakenings is a new program that will feature art projects that explore untold stories, awaken a new perspective and invite the public to join the conversation. The series is part of the City of Toronto’s efforts to address anti-Black racism and will be released over the next couple of years.

In July, the City committed more than $1.2 million in cultural and economic investments to confront anti-Black racism. The City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Economic Development and Culture division have been developing opportunities such as Awakenings to increase support for Toronto’s Black creative communities.

Related Article: Art of inclusion can help build a better Canada

Toronto History Museums recognized the need to reassess the way in which it develops, delivers and evaluates its programming. In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action in the Museum sector, the Toronto History Museums sites are embracing partnerships that embody Indigenous voices, stories and knowledge into programs, collections management and sites. The Awakenings program begins to address the lack of representation in the stories of Toronto’s history. More than 80 per cent of creative people involved in Awakenings art projects are from the Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities.

This month, Awakenings launches 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 histories of her ancestors and the present-day violence ravaging her community, and begins to imagine what her future looks like through dance. Conceived by an internationally-recognized Black creative team and featuring the words of Assata Shakur, this piece spotlights 15 women as they come together to re-frame revolution in the name of love. Esie Mensah choreographs, Weyni Mengesha co-directs, Lucius Dechausay co-directs and edits, and d’bi.young anitafrika composes in this digital short film. “A Revolution of Love” was filmed at Toronto History Museums’ Fort York National Historic Site, in partnership with Soulpepper Theatre.

Behind the Curtain

In conversation with award-winning hip-hop recording artist and broadcaster Shad and producer and multidisciplinary artist Byron Kent Wong, Food Network host, restaurateur, author and award-winning recording artist Roger Mooking reflects on the effects of racism on mental health and shares untold stories of his experiences growing up in the Canadian Prairies and working in the American South. The conversation explores how food, art and music formed his journey. Part one launches today and part two launches on January 12, 2021. Behind the Curtain was filmed at Toronto History Museums’ Montgomery’s Inn.

A Portrait in Red, 2020. A film by Alexandra Lazarowich. Shot by Andrew Williamson.

We Were Always Here

World-renowned director Julien Christian Lutz pka Director X, mentors 10 emerging Toronto-based Black, Indigenous and people of colour filmmakers to present short films that aim to disrupt, discover and display colonial narratives. Each of the filmmakers focuses on one of the 10 Toronto History Museums to bring to light untold stories. Five of these films will launch this month.

Fine Art and Artifact Collection

Toronto History Museums’ Fine Art and Artifact Collection is now available through an online virtual database, available at www.toronto.ca/museums. This collection consists of 150,000 artifacts, 1.1 million archaeological specimens and 3,000 works of art that reflect the 11,000-year span of human occupation of the Toronto area.

Toronto History Museums

Toronto History Museums are a group of 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto that bring Toronto’s history to life 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.

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses.