Sandra Laronde is a strong and inspirational arts leader, creator, and innovator.


Sandra Laronde is a strong and inspirational arts leader, creator, and innovator.

twitter_sm ig_sm in_sm Vimeo-icon YouTubeIcon

sandra_bw_smExecutive & Artistic Director of Red Sky, Sandra Laronde, M.S.C., O.M.C., B.A. (Hon), Hon. LL.D is originally from the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water) in Temagami, northern Ontario. An accomplished arts innovator and cultural leader, Sandra has conceived, developed, produced, and disseminated award-winning productions that are Indigenous, multi and inter-disciplinary, and intergenerational. Sandra creates exceptional new work and programming that expands and elevates the ecology of Indigenous arts and culture, contributing to building vibrant Indigenous communities across Canada and worldwide.

Sandra's awards and nominations include: the 2018 Meritorious Service Decoration on behalf of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada. This prestigious award recognizes the individuals who have made remarkable contributions in many fields of endeavour, who inspire others, and who share a common goal of making a positive difference to Canada. 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 12 Dora Mavor Moore awards and nominations (2019, 2018, 2016, 2012, 2010, 2006, 2004) and two Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, among other recognitions.

In 2017, Sandra was also a Curator for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra celebrating Canada’s diverse musical landscape in a Canada 150 Signature Project. 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.

Sandra was the Director of Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from 2008 – 2017. During her nine-year tenure as director, she realized her vision to create exceptional cutting-edge programming informed by Indigenous cultures and worldviews, and excelled at bringing world-class faculty to the Centre. Substantial growth for Indigenous Arts at the Banff Centre was achieved under her leadership including place-based culture and an innovative new approach to programming involving hundreds of Indigenous artists worldwide. Through her expertise and extensive global reach, Sandra stimulated new partnerships, audiences, media, and sponsors which successfully positioned the Banff Centre as an internationally recognized destination for Indigenous arts.

Sandra is a frequent inspirational speaker, teacher, and lecturer. She was named as an official Canadian delegate at the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa and lectured at several universities and colleges including Ryerson University, York University, University of Toronto, University of New Mexico, University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, George Brown College, Carleton University, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, among others.

She spoke at the Canadian Arts Summit, Luminato Festival, Art Matters, Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Australian Council for the Arts, Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of Mongolia, International Committee for the Olympic Bid in Toronto, and the Blackfoot Arts Awards. Sandra has served on the National Executive Committee for the Governor-General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, and an Advisor to OCAD University, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Western Arts Alliance, and Canada Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, among others.

As a host, Sandra hosted the Midsummer Gala Ball at The Banff Centre, kicked-off the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, and Native Women’s Resource Centre’s first-ever Minaake Awards. Sandra was also the host for Banff Talks and REDTalks, and a three-time presenter at the Indigenous Music Awards, among other events and galas.

Sandra accepted a Public Member Appointment by the Toronto City Council and served as a member of TO Live’s Board of Directors (2016- 2019) for the purposes of merging theatre operations under the new TO Live (formerly Civic Theatres Toronto). She is currently a Board Member of the Temagami Community Foundation that cooperatively and actively nurtures and cares for Temagami – the water, the land and its inhabitants – for today and the future. She is also a Board Member for Turtle Island Institute, a start-up Indigenous social innovation institute currently supported by the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation & Resilience (WISIR).

As a mentor, Sandra currently serves the Advancing Indigenous Performance Program, a new program by the Western Arts Alliance 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.

Sandra holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Toronto, and studied Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Granada in Spain. In 2011, the Senate of Trent University conferred an Honorary Degree of the Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) with all its rights, privileges and obligations.