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 30 years of experience in arts and culture. She is from the Teme-Augama-Anishinaabe (People of the Deep Water) in Temagami, northern Ontario and is based in Toronto.
Sandra plays a pivotal role in the ongoing Indigenous cultural resurgence in Canada. For three decades, 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.
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 Venice Biennale, two Cultural Olympiads (Canada and Beijing), Canadian Heritage’s first Creative Industries Trade Mission to China, a Trade Mission to Europe, Global Affairs Canada visit to northern Sweden, 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 Soweto, 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.
Sandra’s awards and nominations include: the 2021 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize; 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