These times are ever-challenging for everyone right now, which is all the more reason to stay as connected as we can. A unique, inspiring and positive way to do this is through stories. When all of our voices are included and heard, stories really do have the power to build new and stronger connections.
You can take part in building these types of connections by experiencing and exploring untold stories of Toronto’s past, through the Awakenings program, a series of virtual art projects from Toronto History Museums.
The program is part of Toronto History Museums' commitment to the recommendations from the Task Force on Museums and First Peoples to effectively and respectfully co-develop new programs, exhibits, and stories within their 10 sites, as announced by Cheryl Blackman, Director of Museums and Heritage Services.
The goal of Awakenings is to connect us and make a new path forward through art, creativity, culture and innovation. The showcased projects use storytelling, under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, sustainability, and advocacy.
"Our stories have been left out of the global narrative for centuries. We must move forward by healing and empowering our truths in order to obtain a true sense of equity and most of all unity."
– Esie Mensah, Choreographer
Awakenings was created as a result of the $1.2+ million in cultural and economic investment made by the City of Toronto as a way of confronting anti-Black racism and increasing support for Toronto’s Black creative communities.
On top of that, Toronto History Museums is taking a much closer look at the development, delivery, and evaluation of its programming. A result of this, as aligned with the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action in the Museum sector, is a greater focus on Indigenous voices, stories and knowledge in all museum content.
Toronto History Museums invites you to explore its latest virtual artistic program and join in on important new conversations around art projects from Black and Indigenous artists and artists of colour sharing their truths.
This includes well-known artists such as Julien Christian Lutz aka Director X and Roger Mooking, as well as those new to the scene.
Check out these three art projects, plus the Awakenings Reflections behind-the-scenes conversations and essays.
A Revolution of Love
This short digital film presents a young Black woman dealing with the histories of her ancestors and the present-day violence destroying her community. It imagines her future through dance and features 15 women coming together to re-frame revolution in the name of love.
A Revolution of Love was conceived by an internationally-recognized Black creative team and features the words of Assata Shakur. A Revolution of Love was filmed at Toronto History Museums’ Fort York National Historic Site in partnership with Soulpepper Theatre and co-directed by Weyni Mengesha.
Behind the Curtain
Food Network host, restaurateur, author and award-winning recording artist Roger Mooking - together with award-winning hip-hop recording artist and broadcaster Shad and producer and multidisciplinary artist Byron Kent Wong - discuss the effects of racism on mental health in Behind the Curtain.
In these stories, Mooking shares his untold experiences of growing up in the Canadian Prairies and working in the American South, while exploring how food, art and music created this journey. Behind the Curtain was filmed at Toronto History Museums’ Montgomery’s Inn.
We Were Always Here
We Were Always Here showcases the stories of 10 emerging Toronto-based Black, Indigenous and people of colour filmmakers who were mentored by world-renowned director Julien Christian Lutz aka Director X.
The goal of these short films is to disrupt, discover and display colonial narratives. Each filmmaker focuses on one of the 10 Toronto History Museums to tell various untold stories.
“We were always here… Black, Indigenous, multi-generational immigrants and people of colour were always here as were the heritage sites; this will be a true awakening to Toronto’s unseen history and our stories that need to be told.”
– Julien Christian Lutz aka Director X
All Awakenings programming is free and currently delivered virtually, so you can experience and learn more safely from your home.
Where: Right now, all programming is online at toronto.ca/museums with plans to also move to public locations in the future.
Why You Need To Go: Learn about Toronto's untold history through stories told by Black and Indigenous artists, and artists of colour, that connect us and create a new path forward.