Women In Music Canada ED Robyn Stewart Explains Noms List

On International Women’s Day (March 8), the inaugural Women in Music Canada Honours will take place

Women In Music Canada ED Robyn Stewart Explains Noms List

By Karen Bliss

On International Women’s Day (March 8), the inaugural Women in Music Canada Honours will take place at Toronto’s Opera House, drawing from a long list of 45 names (see below) separated into eight categories.

Tickets are $75.Doors are 6 p.m.; presentations are at 7 p.m.

The press release lists each name in alphabetical order but not the category they are up for, although some can be guessed.

The categories are Artist of the Year (presented by Amazon Music), Distinguished Leader (presented by TuneCore), Entrepreneur of the Year (presented by Bandzoogle), Excellence in Live Music, International Leader of the Year, Organization of the Year, Trailblazer Award, and the Women in Music Canada Honour Roll (presented by Spotify), “which will honour up to 10 women and gender diverse industry members or artists who are on the rise.”


The longlist was selected by a jury of unnamed professionals from the Canadian music industry, invited by Women In Music Canada, whose board then determined the winners.

The WIMC Honours were designed to celebrate and support Canadian innovators and creators who have had outstanding success in their field in the eligibility year (Dec. 2021-Dec. 2022 for annual categories).

The awards will also include performances by Fefe Dobson, Desiree Dawson, Sacha, Tia Wood, Sofia Camera and Liliane Chlela, sponsored by SiriusXM.

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) has also selected the WIMC Honours event to induct Celtic harpist and singer Loreena McKennitt, whose catalogue has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide. She will be the first inductee into the Class of 2023. Calgary’s National Music Centre (NMC) will have a permanent exhibit at the museum.

Women In Music Canada was started by Samantha Slattery in 2014. With funding, Winnipeg’s Robyn Stewart came on board last August as the organization’s first full-time executive director.


She spoke to FYI Music News about why they’re needed, how the nominees were selected and why many of Canada’s music industry veterans weren’t included in the inaugural WIMC Honours.

Did you model this on any other awards?

I did research on various ones. It's loosely based on the UK Music Week Women In Music Awards and the Billboard Women In Music Awards.  Loosely based meaning they’re not a copy of all the categories, but I did research them for inspiration.

Why do we need another award show in Canada?

This program uniquely is representing women and gender-diverse folks for their incredible accomplishments and the new and up-and-coming projects of emerging talent.

How was the long list determined?

We had almost 400 submissions and the long list was brought together by the results of a jury. We had 22 jury members across the country review submissions in various categories and, from that, it was all tabulated down to the long list. The final list is the committee of our board reviewing the jurors' results and ensuring that our final list is representative of a diverse range of individuals and projects in our community.

So it’s not a blind vote; it's more a debate.


The final one is not a blind vote. It’s more aligned with, say, Polaris Music Prize, where it's a conversation in-person with the final jury.

Will it be a surprise at the awards for the winners?

Most of them, yes.

It's the inaugural awards for Women in Music Canada. We know not many women have been given special achievement awards at the Juno Awards for example [only four of the 38 recipients — Rosalie Trombley, Denise Donlon, Pegi Cicconi, Denise Jones]. Likely the same percentage at other music awards that have an industry award.

There are a lot of women who are considered veterans that might never be recognized at this rate:  Susan Rosenberg, Jane Harbury, Lisa Zbitnew, Jo Faloona, Charlotte Thompson, Denise Ross, Vivian Barclay, Cynthia Barry, Cristina Fernandes, Joanne Setterington, Yvonne Matsell, Sandy Pandya, Susan de Cartier, Meg Symsyk, Linda Bush, on and on and on. So many. For the first one, why not bring all or many of these veterans together and honour them?


That's a hard question. You're absolutely right. There are a lot of folks who have not been recognized in their time, and who have been doing this for a long time. We are looking at ways to recognize those accomplishments and those heroes and mentors. For this year, I wanted to set this program up to have longevity and look at highlighting the things that are coming forward as well. In going through this process, however, it's become even more obvious that there is a big backlog of folks who have not been recognized in the ways they should have in the past and has really turned our attention to how do we also do that.

Because this isn't a Hall of Fame.

Yes. There is one category, trailblazer, which is more in line with the Hall of Fame idea. But the majority of the categories are not Hall of Fame focused. We may see changes either to this or new programs in the future to help recognize veterans who have paved the way for what's possible today. But this program is not wholly focused on that.

Four hundred submissions is a lot. But, as mentioned, there are still many names that weren't submitted or would not submit on their own behalf. Did you say, “This person needs to be included?”

No. For this year, we only reviewed what was submitted. We needed to start somewhere. And while there definitely were folks that were not submitted that were 100 percent eligible and strong candidates, we felt there was a list of very strong candidates as-is. And so for this year, it was based purely on submissions,


Why include artists when there are so many award shows for artists?

It’s a good question. There's only one artist category, and the final category of honour roll includes both. The majority of the categories are industry focused. The interesting thing is the artist category had the most submissions because it was the only artist-only category. That stems to every program we have right now. Even our entrepreneur accelerator was 75% submitted by artists, even though the program innately is built more for the industry. But while there is a load of awards programs for artists; I don't see this turning to build more and more on the artist side for that reason. But we did include artists as well because we want to recognize that a lot of that success comes from the industry as well. A lot of artists, for a lot of their career, are their own industry.

Amanda Power – The Unison Fund
Amber Moyle – Polaris Music Prize
Anna Ruddick – The Unison Fund
Anne Stirk – Spotify Canada
Ashley Bieniarz – Songsmiths
Béatrice Martin – Bravo musique and Coeur de pirate
Carey Riley – Sony Music Canada
Charlotte Cardin
DeeDee Austin
Domanique Grant
Elise Roller – Misfit Music MGMT
Faryal Khan-Thompson – TuneCore
Fefe Dobson – 21 Entertainment Group Inc.
Fredericka Petit-Homme
Heather Gibson – National Arts Centre
Irish Mythen – Irish Mythen
Janna Sailor – Janna Sailor (Allegra Chamber Orchestra)
Jenn Ivanovs – Jives Management
Jessica Holtby – Seeka Sings
Jessica Lemmon – Lemmon Entertainment
Jessika Harling – JESSIA
Karen Kosowski
Katrina Kernaghan – TikTok
Lana Winterhalt – Good + Plenty Producer's Club
Marilyne Lacombe – Mothland
Mary Beth Waldram – Laughing Heart Music
Monika Ouellet – Lazermortis
Nico Paulo
Nicole Auger – Indigenous Music Alliance
Nicole Alosinac – Nicole Alosinac Luthiery
Ryhna Thompson – Envision Management & Production
Samantha Pickard – Strut Entertainment
Sandy Graham – EMG
Shantel Noel – Spotify
Sharine Taylor – Independent / Bashy
Shauna de Cartier – Six Shooter Records
ShoShona Kish – Ishkode Records / Indigenous Music Alliance
Shumaila Hemani – Shumaila Hemani
Stacey Bedford – Bandzoogle
Stone Age AGE UG – Stone Age Ent
Sunny Chen – Sad China
Tanika Charles
Tyler Tasson – Endemic Marketing
Yolanda Sargeant – Sargeant X Comrad


Vanessa Heins


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