News Release
March 25, 2021

Today, the City of Toronto launched new video content for the Awakenings program at Toronto History Museums in time for International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to address inequities that continue to exist. The new video, entitled Real Talk, is part of the Behind the Curtain series of Awakenings that reflects on historic and present-day effects of systemic racism on physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Real Talk highlights issues such as intergenerational trauma, inequity, virus transmission and wellness from a mental, physical and emotional standpoint while imagining what a healthy future can look like and includes personal comments from artists, teachers and diverse voices.

In this new 23-minute video, Food Network/Cooking Channel host, chef, recording artist and mental health advocate, Roger Mooking sits down with Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roberta Timothy, Stachen Frederick and Dr. Suzanne Shoush, health professionals from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds. They discuss the realities of Black people living in Toronto, how they got here, what they need to know and how the COVID-19 pandemic can affect Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) differently.

Watch Real Talk from Behind the Curtain. Additional Awakenings programming will be available throughout 2021. More Awakenings program details are available.

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

As today marks, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, it’s a fitting time to listen to Freedom Heights (A song for Joshua Glover), a track from the Awakenings’ Kitchen Concerts at the Inn, which is now available on all digital platforms. Proceeds from the streaming platforms will be donated to NIA Centre for the Arts, Canada’s first professional multi-disciplinary Black arts centre. Performed by Jully Black, Kardinal Offishall, Savannah Ré, Emanuel and Susan Carol, this song of revolution, empowerment and resistance brings an awakening during current times of social and racial injustice. The song, which champions Joshua Glover’s story of inspiration, is also being amplified with the Toronto Raptors.

Kitchen Concerts at the Inn is a music series celebrating the life and honouring the story of Joshua Glover, a freedom seeker who escaped enslavement in the United States and then lived in Etobicoke and worked at Montgomery’s Inn.

Launched in December 2020, Awakenings is a series of art projects by Black, Indigenous and artists of colour, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism and anti-racism. The series is part of the City’s efforts to address anti-Black racism. Share your feedback on the Awakenings program by taking this online survey.


“Our Awakenings program was launched to help us address difficult issues that the BIPOC community is facing but to also create a space for difficult conversations that need to be had. This video acknowledges the disproportionate impact on our Black community and by having this conversation and creating a space for it, we are able to collectively work to address it. As a city, we are committed to addressing systemic racism in our city and creating tangible change that will help us eliminate all forms of racism, discrimination and hatred. I encourage everyone to watch Real Talk and participate in Awakenings to learn more and to better understand the many untold stories of our city.”
– Mayor John Tory

“Real Talk builds on the ongoing Behind the Curtain programming, with Roger Mooking providing a trusted bridge between the City of Toronto and communities of colour. The project aims to validate the feelings of people who often struggle to see themselves in the City’s messaging around COVID-19, to acknowledge the reasons for their misgivings, and to take steps toward earning their trust.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City’s Economic and Community Development Committee

“Conversations like Real Talk are important opportunities to discuss how vulnerable communities – including Black, Indigenous and people of colour – have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, how that impact is engendered, and how we can build back better with a commitment to equity and caring for the most vulnerable.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto Public Health

“The purpose of the COVID-19 Real Talk documentary is to allow members of the BIPOC community to present an honest and unfiltered voice during one of the most challenging times in recent human history. I’m so grateful for all the participants, their honesty, and trust in bringing this vision to life.”
– Roger Mooking, Food Network and Cooking Channel host, chef, recording artist and mental health advocate

About 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. More information is available on the City’s website, or follow Toronto History Museums on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook and on YouTube.

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.

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