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Meet the 2023 Women in Music Canada Honourees
Organization of the Year - Ishkode Records / Indigenous Music Alliance

This honour is given to a company making significant strides in equity in the workplace. This honouree organization has done incredible work this past year in advancing opportunities for Indigenous artists and their teams. As a newer company to the landscape, we are excited to elevate their work and achievements. 

Excellence in Live - Heather Gibson, Executive Producer, National Arts Centre

The Excellence in Live Honour recognizes a music professional working in a live production or touring environment making significant impact in their field. This year’s Honouree, Heather Gibson’s work has given opportunities for artists across Canada and beyond stretching as far as Dubai this past year. From the start of her time at National Music Centre she has prioritized gender parity in programming, focusing on regional and cultural parity as well.  Reaching out to artists from all communities and genres who have not previously had the opportunity to be involved with the National Arts Centre.

Distinguished Leader presented by TuneCore - Executive Director of ADVANCE: Canada's Black Music Business Collective, Keziah Myers

Keziah has worked with partner companies across the country to ensure Black voices are present at every music event, and encouraging anti-Black racism training, speaking on panels, reaching out to communities province by province with a boots-on-the-ground approach, she does it all. Keziah has worked with school boards to implement educational programming to make change from early ages, and educate parents on the opportunities of careers in music. 

To quote the nominator; “she has made ferocious strides towards changing the Canadian music industry as a whole and how it encourages, represents, hires, acknowledges and speaks to the Black music community.”  

Entrepreneur of the Year presented by Bandzoogle - Elise Roller - Owner of Misfit Music MGMT

This honour recognizes a company making significant strides in diversity in the workplace, and looks especially at the work over the last year. While hers is a newer company to the Canadian landscape, Elise Roller has almost 20 years experience as a musician and industry professional. She has built a diverse team, and artist’s roster, always working to ensure her artists’ needs are at the forefront. This past year, Elise has fostered her artist roster through incredible development, international touring success and all the while been juggling an infant in stride. She is continuously working towards a more inclusive and equitable industry for women, mothers, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and 2SLGBTQ+ communities by initiating thoughtful discussions and action. 

Trailblazer Award - Rhyna Thompson - Envision Management & Production

Rhyna has demonstrated her trailblazing leadership in nurturing and championing artists, and mentoring cultural workers. Rhyna has led her own company and her music and artistic community at large to navigate huge changes in the industry, to succeed and become better, over the course of the last 2 decades. Her work has often included creating new models for working within the industry that have addressed how one might shape and run a music company; how the industry can evolve to become more inclusive, equitable and supportive; how musical artists may imagine new ways to reach new audiences while expanding on innovating their artistic practice.

Trailblazer Award - Sandy Pandya, ArtHaus Music

Sandy Pandya has been blazing her own trail throughout for an over 30 year career so far, as a live venue owner, booking agent and manager, all across this country and beyond, working with artists such as Serena Ryder, Frank Dukes, Doc McKinney, and Tegan and Sara. For much of her career she was the only woman in the room, and now with ArtHaus she is opening up a path for young women and non-binary creatives and entrepreneurs. 

To quote her, “Artists have one career. We are mindful of that with every decision we make on their behalf.” This drives her philosophy in starting her full service label and management company ArtHaus Music  and ArtHaus Community, to support the next generation of emerging artists and entrepreneurs in music and across the creative industries. 

Artist of the Year presented by Amazon Music - Charlotte Cardin

This award recognizes an artist whose music demonstrates excellence with an exceptional year as a result of radio chart successes, media exposure, industry recognition, and/or touring success. This year, Charlotte Cardin led the nominations at the 2022 JUNOs Awards with a total of 6 nominations and 4 wins. She was the first Canadian female artist to spend multiple weeks at #1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums Charts, among other accolades and completed a sold out Canadian tour including 13 sold out nights in Montreal. 

International Leader of the Year - Faryal Khan-Thompson, TuneCore

Faryal has a passionate commitment to democratizing the music industry worldwide and creating opportunities for artists, especially gender and racial minorities, to get their music heard and grow their fanbases and their careers. She is particularly focused on emerging and developing markets as well as historically disenfranchised communities, where they have faced greater barriers, hurdles and gatekeepers when trying to break into the music industry. In her current role, she has spearheaded expanding operations to 17 countries worldwide across 5 continents in the past 2 years. 

Ashley Bieniarz

Ashley is a force to be reckoned with. Owner of Songsmiths, hosting songwriting circles aimed at giving established songwriters the opportunity to mentor upcoming songwriters, sharing songs in the round and offering advice and feedback where necessary. With Songsmiths, Ashley collaborated with Ila Barker of AIRsessions to bring AIRcamp to Winnipeg, a 5-day mentorship for Indigenous youth in the areas of music production, songwriting, and the industry. 

Ashley also collaborated with Manitoba Music and Precursor Productions to bring a Songsmiths Song Camp to Winnipeg, inviting a small group of songwriters and producers to learn about the industry of songwriting. Most recently, Ashley has collaborated with local musician Tyler del Pino to bring the "Nashville, Manitoba Songwriter's Series" to life, giving local songwriters the opportunity to share their songs in the round. 

Domanique Grant

Domanique Grant is a Pop-Soul Singer/Songwriter and Speaker from Toronto, named one of Buzzfeed's top 20 artists to watch. Her unconventional up bringing, having lived in Canada, Uganda and Argentina before the age of 22 translated into an instant superpower, connection. With music that is healing, empowering and genre bending all at the same time, Domanque's sound is a fusion of feel good pop, moody R&B and soul.  

Janna Sailor

By establishing the Allegra Chamber Orchestra, Ms. Sailor has single-handedly created an entirely female/genderqueer space in classical music, something that is desperately lacking in this suffocatingly traditional and male dominated sphere. In a career where the propriety of seeing women’s uncovered arms and ankles onstage is still a point of contention, Ms. Sailor elevates and empowers marginalized performers, composers, and creators to speak their truths in an open and supportive space.

Mary Beth Waldram

Mary Beth is one of the most important and notable figures in the live music sector in Atlantic Canada. For over a decade she has worked in logistics and leadership roles with events like the East Coast Music Awards, Lawnya Vawnya, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. 

She is currently the Artistic Director for the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. In that role she has done incredible work building lineups that include significant representation of women and gender diverse performers. She is a huge supporter of new and emerging artists in particular, and has a stellar reputation for her work throughout the industry.

At the 2022 MusicNL Awards, Mary Beth won Industry Professional of the Year, a reflection of the great work she does in our home province of NL. Mary Beth sits as Vice Chair on the MusicNL board of directors and is actively involved in the funding and programming committees with the board. We regularly draw on her years of industry experience for input into programming changes, and in the operation of MusicNL's annual event, Music Celebration Week.

Nicole Alosinac

Founder of Nicole Alosinac Luthiery, a guitar manufacturer focusing on building guitars specific to artists with smaller frames, and people with disabilities. She has built an all queer team, giving more opportunities to this community. Her nomination was received on behalf of her staff, who presented a heartfelt video tribute to her work and commitment and leadership that is so important in this industry. 

Nicole Auger

Manager of Programming & Community Engagement of the International Indigenous Music Summit. Nicole is deeply committed and passionate about the music scene, but more specifically about the Indigenous Music community and industry. She works until the job is done, following through, taking things over the finish line, and brings a beautiful and positive perspective to any work she is participating in. 

Shumaila Hemani

Shumaila Hemani comes from an underrepresented Pakistani Muslim community within Canada and has brought her music compositions created in Pakistan and Canada addressing the climate crisis to the international community's attention.  

Hemani is a multi-lingual artist singing in Sindhi, Urdu, Arabic, and English and her songs have received attention in Canada, the US, UK, Pakistan, and Chile. She has collaborated with international musicians, including Toronto-based Nigerian singer-songwriter: Kunle, Chilean group Chola y Gitano and Denmark-based duo En:1 as part of the Global Music Match program. Her video was #1 in 2022 on Ethnocloud’s World Music Middle Eastern chart and #14 on the World Music chart, and her album, Mannat (a prayer, a wish), was selected as one of the most significant albums in 2022 by Alberta Music.

Hemani represented her community at the first Music Climate Conference in Toronto (2022) speaking on the role of artists in voicing climate justice and her music was also featured on CBC’s What on Earth with pending features in the National Observer and BBC-UK. 

The impact of Hemani’s work is significant on the world stage and within South Asian and Muslim communities.


STORRY's everyday existence is part of her activism/push for societal change. She speaks openly about my experience being coerced into the sex industry, being part of the LGBTQ2+ community, the parallels she's sadly discovered between the sex and music industry with its exploitative and misogynistic nature and her desire to work with more women in all spheres.

Through her music, storytelling and visual artistry, she is committed to pushing boundaries and being the change she wants to see in the world. Creating work that challenges the status quo, stereotypes and asks important questions. Her debut album was about her life experience being coerced into the sex-industry and finding a similar form of exploitation when I began entering the music industry. Her next album begins at the moment she realized she was being sex-trafficked and her journey of healing. 

Sunny Chen of Sad China

Sunny is a queer, non-binary pop icon, originally from Nanjing, China. They make and perform dance-worthy music as "Sad China", and their bilingual debut album 'ilyimy' was given 7/10 stars by Exclaim! in October 2021. Sunny weaves Mandarin phrases into their songwriting to reconnect with their heritage - and that way, their grandparents can listen to their music too! Sad China has shared the stage with Adewolf, Tonye Aganaba, Clara Sanchez, Michelle Heyóka, KeAloha, and Blonde Diamond, among other local stars. A former "it girl" and survivor of assault in Vancouver's music scene, they make music to dance, cry, vibe, and heal to. Sunny wrote "hum1n" and "Mt. unPleasant" based on their experiences as a survivor and gender diverse Asian femme. They released 'i love you Remix you', working with x/o, Devours, Tough Sell, Lowkita, Kerub, Solreia, pseudo-antigone, and more. Sunny is dedicated to giving voice to those who have been silenced, and transforming dark matter into pure energy.

Sunny founded sound_therapy Music Festival, and curated 5 days of live music programming and 1 survivors' wellness workshop, which ran in August 2022 (supported by CreativeBC and BC Arts Council). This music festival highlighted 22 artists from Metro Vancouver, with the majority of the lineup being emerging, Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer, and/or trans artists. 

Yolanda Sargeant of Sargeant and Comrade

 Yolanda has a work ethic like few others I know. She is constantly writing, creating, collaborating and performing. Over the pandemic, her and her band partner have started a record label, been long listed for the Polaris prize, she has filled in as a substitute host for CBC's The Key of A, performed on TedXYYC and opened for The Wailers, to list but just a few of her recent accomplishments, not to mention multiple local and national awards and nominations and topping charts.