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


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

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A highly accomplished arts leader, creator, innovator, and influential speaker, Sandra Laronde (Misko Kizhigoo Migizii Kwe) which means “Red Sky Eagle Woman” in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) language, M.S.C., O.M.C., B.A. (Hon), Hon. LL.D. has over 27 years of experience in the arts and culture sector. She is from the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water) in Temagami, northern Ontario.

Sandra plays a pivotal role in the ongoing Indigenous cultural resurgence in Canada. For close to three decades, she has created an extraordinary body of work and inspired programming with diverse collaborators that has led to powerful, transformational arts experiences elevating the ecology of arts and culture in this country while strengthening the international presence of Indigenous arts and culture.

A champion of Canada, Sandra is active in cultural diplomacy through the arts, forging stronger ties by representing the nation at numerous high-profile international events and platforms including the 2018 Venice Biennale, two Cultural Olympiads (Canada and Beijing), Canadian Heritage’s first Creative Industries Trade Mission to China with Minister Melanie Joly, a 2020 Trade Mission to Europe with Minister Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s High Commission, Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Council of Mongolia, and as an Official Delegate and Speaker at the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, to name a few. Sandra founded Red Sky Performance in 2000, Canada's leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide. Their mission is to create inspiring experiences of contemporary Indigenous arts and culture that transform society.

Sandra's awards and nominations include: the 2020 Celebration of Cultural Life Award from the Toronto Arts Foundation, 2018 Meritorious Service Decoration on behalf of the Governor General of Canada, and the 2018 Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation. In 2017, Sandra was a finalist for the Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award; 2014 Vital Ideas (Toronto Community Foundation); 2013 Victor Martyn Staunch-Lynch Award for Outstanding Artist in Dance (Canada Council); bestowed with a 2011 Honorary Degree (Hons LL.D) from Trent University; 2011 Expressive Arts Award (Smithsonian Institute); Ontario Good Citizenship Medal; City of Toronto and Toronto Life's "Face the Arts" recipient celebrating Cultural Mavericks; Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts (Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity); Toronto City Council's Aboriginal Affairs Award, and participated in the Governor-General's Canadian Leadership program that celebrates leaders who make a significant impact on Canada. Her company Red Sky garnered 16 Dora Mavor Moore awards and nominations (2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2012, 2010, 2006, 2004) and two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, among other recognitions.

In 2019, Sandra was the Curator and brainchild of the inaugural “The Land on Which We Dance Festival” at Jacob’s Pillow in the USA which featured an embodied land acknowledgement, Indigenous traditional and contemporary dance, storytelling, workshops, masterclasses, and connecting with local Indigenous communities.

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 nine robust years, Sandra was the Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2007 - 2016). She provided a vision for a compelling future of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre in the 21st century. Nine years of extraordinary growth and innovation for Indigenous Arts was achieved under Sandra's leadership.

Sandra is a frequent inspirational speaker and lecturer. She has spoken at the ASSITEJ World Congress in Soweto, South Africa, Canadian Arts Summit, Luminato Festival, Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Blackfoot Arts Awards, Temiskaming Secondary School, and has lectured at numerous universities including Ryerson University, York University, University of Toronto, University of New Mexico, University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Carleton University, among others.

Currently, Sandra serves on the inaugural Board of TO Live Foundation, Temagami Community Foundation, the Verity Circle on Truth & Reconciliation, and is on the Steering Committee of the CSC Global Leaders 2022 which helps to build leadership capacity across the Commonwealth.

She serves 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.