Sandra Laronde is a visionary leader, artist, and arts innovator.


Sandra Laronde is an inspirational arts leader, creator, and innovator.

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A highly accomplished arts innovator, multidisciplinary artist, and visionary leader, Sandra Laronde is from the Teme-Augama Anishinaabe, the People of the Deep Water, in Temagami, northern Ontario and based in Toronto.

Sandra Laronde, (Misko Kizhigoo Migizii Kwe) which means “Red Sky Eagle Woman” in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) language, M.S.C., O.M.C., OOnt, B.A. (Hon), Hon. LLD., stands at the forefront of the ongoing Indigenous cultural resurgence of Canada.

She has created an extraordinary body of work with collaborators that has led to powerful arts experiences elevating the ecology of arts and culture in this country while strengthening an international presence.

Her extensive body of creations include dance, theatre, music, and media. At the heart of her work lies a commitment to storytelling and ongoing exploration and experimentation. Her body of work has created powerful transformational experiences across Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia.

Sandra actively engages in diplomacy through the arts, forging stronger ties by representing the nation at prominent international delegations, events and platforms, including the Venice Biennale, two Cultural Olympiads (Canada and Beijing), Canadian Heritage’s inaugural Creative Industries Trade Mission to China, a Trade Mission to Europe, Global Affairs Canada visit to northern Sweden, CAPACOA and the Performing Arts Platform of Colombia at the 6th edition of La Bienal de Danza de Cali, and as an Official Delegate and Speaker at an ASSITEJ World Congress in Soweto, South Africa, among others.

Sandra's accolades are numerous and include the 2023 Indspire Award for the Arts, the 2023 Indigenous Artist Award from the Toronto Arts Foundation, the 2023 Horace Mann Upstander Award, the 2021 Order of Ontario, the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize, the 2020 Celebration of Cultural Life Award from the Toronto Arts Foundation, the 2018 Governor General of Canada’s Meritorious Service Cross, the 2018 Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation, the 2014 Vital Ideas from the Toronto Community Foundation, the 2013 Victor Martyn Staunch-Lynch Award for Outstanding Artist in Dance from Canada Council for the Arts, an Honorary Degree (Hons LL.D) from Trent University in 2011, the Expressive Arts Award from the Smithsonian Institute in 2011, the Ontario Good Citizenship Medal, the City of Toronto and Toronto Life's "Face the Arts" recipient celebrating Cultural Mavericks, the Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts from the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Toronto City Council's Aboriginal Affairs Award, and participation in the Governor-General's Canadian Leadership program, honouring leaders who make a significant impact on Canada. Additionally, her company Red Sky has received 17 Dora Mavor Moore awards and nominations (2023, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2012, 2010, 2006, 2004) and two Indigenous Music Awards, among other notable recognitions.

In 2017, Sandra was also a Curator for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrating Canada’s diverse musical landscape. She curated and directed a singular concert featuring a new genre-defying creation that explored Indigenous, electro-acoustic, and orchestral music, dance and film involving 85 musicians at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

For nearly a decade, Sandra held the position of Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, leaving an indelible mark. Sandra provided visionary leadership and artistic and strategic direction for a compelling future of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre, designing innovative Indigenous-led programming across all artistic disciplines on campus. Nine years (2007 – 2016) of extraordinary growth and innovation of Indigenous Arts was achieved under her leadership.

In 2000, Sandra founded Red Sky Performance, now recognized as Canada's leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance, both nationally and worldwide.

Her collaborations with institutions such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Banff Centre, Canadian Stage, Jacob’s Pillow, Columbia University, University of Kansas, among others, have been instrumental in dismantling colonial models and constructing new strategies that foster stronger Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships.

Sandra is an inspirational speaker and guest lecturer. She has spoken at arts summits, forums, special events, and numerous universities and colleges across Canada, United States, and Asia.

Most recently, Sandra has added ‘author’ to her list of accomplishments with her debut novel, ‘She Holds Up the Stars’, published by Annick Press in August 2022. Her novel received the coveted Kirkus Star which marks books of exceptional merit, named as one of 2022 Best of Canadian Books for Young Adults by CBC Books, won the 2023 Horace Mann Upstander Award, and nominated for the 2024 Manitoba Young People’s Choice Awards.

Currently, Sandra serves on the Steering Committee of the CSC Global Leaders 2023 which helps to build leadership capacity across the Commonwealth.

She served as a mentor for the Advancing Indigenous Performance Program, a new program to deepen support for US-based Indigenous performing artists and touring networking that is rooted in the shared values of openness, inclusion, equity, and generosity.