Casey House, Canada's first stand-alone hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS, is highlighting the stigma still experienced by sufferers by opening a pop-up restaurant in Toronto.
June's, named after Casey House's founder and Canadian activist June Callwood, will be open in Toronto November 7-8 in collaboration with chef Matt Basile of Toronto-based restaurant Fidel Gastro. Basile has been working with 14 HIV positive people to develop the menu, train, and cook for customers.
The project was developed by agency Bensimon Byrne. Its aim is to highlight prejudice against people with HIV/AIDS: a survey cited by the agency shows that only half of Canadians would knowingly share food with or eat food prepared by someone who is HIV positive.
Tickets for the pop-up restaurant have been available online and have already sold out. "The response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive," says Joseph Bonnici, executive creative director / partner." Even in one of the most diverse cities in the world, there are people who really do not like the idea of HIV positive chefs cooking for the public. What we found was that when ignorance and blame showed up online, there was a community quick to explain, educate and drown out the negative voices. It really has shown the best of human nature."