News Release
February 24, 2022

Today, the City of Toronto launched “Black Bodies,” the newest feature in the Toronto Voices vaccine engagement video series. “Black Bodies” profiles Dr. Akwatu Khenti, Chair of the City’s Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, who shares a personal message about COVID-19 vaccination with Toronto’s Black community.

In the powerful four-minute feature, Dr. Khenti provides context behind vaccine mistrust and hesitation amongst Black communities, referencing the historical exploitation of Black bodies and ongoing stigmatization faced by Black communities. Dr. Khenti sheds light on the correlation between over-exposure to COVID-19 risks alongside under-protection from severe illness, explaining the urgent need for vaccination uptake with sincerity, compassion and respect.

COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionately high impact on Toronto’s Black and other racialized communities. The Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity was created in December 2020, in partnership with the TAIBU Community Health Centre, as part of the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan to address Black community concerns and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, testing and vaccines. It is one of the approaches being used to communicate, mobilize and engage communities most affected by the pandemic in order to address systemic inequities.

Toronto Voices is a series of videos featuring personal stories of Toronto residents, community-based insights and vaccine information and resources. Created for the community, by the community, the City worked with talent from its ArtWorksTO program which provides opportunities for youth media artists (ages 18 to 29) who are Indigenous, Black and People of Colour and/or 2SLGBTQ+ to gain professional experience, skills and network in the media arts industry. Serville Poblette of Slow Drip Studio, an alumnus of the program, was awarded the producer role for the series.


“Thank you, Dr. Khenti, for your important message that is so powerfully illustrated in this video. Toronto Voices was created to support vaccination efforts but also to demonstrate the importance of personal stories and creating a better understanding of one another. I hope the message of this video promotes greater awareness for the importance of vaccination as we strive to keep all our communities healthy through this pandemic and beyond. I thank everyone who has been vaccinated as well as everyone who has supported our Team Toronto vaccine engagement efforts.”
– Mayor John Tory

“It is a reality that the pandemic has disproportionately affected specific communities in Toronto, including the city’s Black Community. We want to acknowledge and address the concerns of residents in Black communities, remove barriers and ensure they are given the resources, information and support needed to ensure the health and safety of their families and community members. Thank you Dr. Khenti for this powerful narrative.”

– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

“Now is not the time to take our feet off the public health pedal. The global pandemic is still with us and too many of our brothers and sisters are over-exposed and under-vaccinated. But there is good news: respectful engagement is working.”

– Dr. Akwatu Khenti, Chair of the City’s Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity

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. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media Relations