2024 Call For Nominations

Folk Music Ontario (FMO) is seeking individuals to stand as candidates in the 2024 election of its Board of Directors. Directors will be elected by electronic ballot (or acclaimed) ahead of this year’s Annual General Meeting with terms concluding with the 2027 AGM. For 2024, FMO is looking to fill three board positions through this process.

This year we will be welcoming our community to our 38th annual conference in Mississauga, Ontario, October 3-6, 2024. We hope that nominees will plan to attend the conference, regardless of their nomination status, and if elected, will attend their first board meeting at the event.

Nominees are required to read our  What to Expect If You’re Elected document to better understand the responsibilities of board members.

It is preferred that people use the Online Nomination Form. If an alternative is required to accommodate your accessibility needs, please contact  office@folkmusicontario.ca.

Please submit nomination forms by 11:59PM ET on Monday, June 26th. We thank all our members for their continued support of the organization, and hope some of you will step forward to help guide FMO into the future.

If you have any additional questions or wish to further discuss your interest in running, please contact Joel Elliott, Operations Manager at office@folkmusicontario.ca

Folk Music Ontario invites self-nominations from all qualified individuals. We welcome and encourage submissions from all cultures, religions, and ethnicity, people with disabilities, people of colour, Indigenous peoples, and those of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

We also welcome submissions from individuals residing outside of Ontario. All nominees must reside within Canada to be considered for nomination. 

FMO aims to reduce financial barriers to participating in Board activities. If the purchase of an FMO membership is prohibitive to you, feel free to contact FMO and inquire about accommodations. Please note that all board members must be active members of Folk Music Ontario for the duration of their term. 

We look forward to your nominations!


Cécile Doo-Kingué


Term ends 2024

Award-winning artist Cécile Doo-Kingué is considered one of Canada’s finest guitarists and singer-songwriters. First generation from Cameroon, the NYC-born Montrealer has released four albums to critical acclaim, received 8 Maple Blues Awards nominations and has extensively toured domestically and internationally, including most major folk, blues and jazz festivals in Canada, earning a reputation for blistering live sets, strong social commentary and guitar prowess. She has opened for, shared a stage and/or recorded with Montreal Jubilation Choir, Canned Heat, Angelique Kidjo, Ruthie Foster to name but a few.

In 2008, Cecile and Gern Vlchek co-created Chick Pickin’ Mondays, offering a safespace and equitable gig for women and genderqueer artists. Cécile has since expanded the concept to curate and present private showcases at music conferences including FMO and Folk Alliance International.

Tara Williamson


Term ends 2025

Tara Williamson is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and was raised in Gaabishkigamaag (Swan Lake, Manitoba). She is a singer/songwriter with 2 EPs and 1 full length album under her belt that have garnered acclaim across Turtle Island, including an Indigenous Music Award nomination for Best Pop Album in 2017. Her newest album, Enough, was released in June of 2021. Tara also holds degrees in social work, law, and Indigenous governance, is a Senior Researcher at the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria and a Research Fellow with the Yellowhead Institute.

Rachel Petersen


Term ends 2026

Rachel is a lifelong patron of the arts with a passion for visual arts, art & cultural history, and live performance. As a representative of the Summerfolk Music & Crafts festival, Rachel actively participates in Folk Music Ontario (FMO). During the past 3 years working at Summerfolk, Rachel has revitalized the festival's 600-member strong volunteer program to create a strong backbone for the organization, in the pursuit of preserving folk arts & culture in Canada. Through her time at Summerfolk, Rachel has grown increasingly familiar and connected with artists in the industry.

Rachel holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she specialized in entrepreneurship, holistic business strategy, and market research. Currently transitioning to a supporting role in the executive office of a non-profit serving tech startup, Rachel is excited to continue her volunteer contributions to Summerfolk and FMO.

Karrnnel Sawitsky


Term ends 2025

Karrnnel is an accomplished and innovative musician, composer, structural engineer, inventor, father, husband and builder. Known for his creativity and passion, Karrnnel focuses on creativity in all endeavours of his life. With over thirty years of experience as a musician, he has garnered numerous awards and accolades for his distinct style and exceptional technique. Karrnnel's focus on creativity is evident in his compositions, with over 300 songs to his name, and his work in writing full orchestrations for his original music. He is not only a performer and composer but also actively involved in music education, sharing his gift at various workshops and camps.

Valerie Denn


Term ends 2025

Valerie is very active in the World Music / Roots / Americana community as an agent and a manager. She is passionate about her artists and especially adept at helping her clients with export development and building global careers. Val served for four years on the Board of Directors for Folk Alliance International where she also served a term as President. Val teaches and partners with other industry events to lead workshops/panels for the enrichment of the creative/artistic process. She has been a mentor at SXSW, Mundial Montreal, WOMEX, Folk Music Canada, ECMA’s and participated on numerous panels at industry events. She currently is on the board as interim President of Folk Music Canada and a board member of the Live Music Society- which gives grants to small venues in the US. Val is the Canadian Ambassador for The House of Songs based in Austin, Texas. This organization matches songwriters globally for co-writing experiences and has residencies in Austin, Bentonville, AR, New York City, and opening new “houses” in Nordic countries.

Cassidy Houston


Term ends 2026

Since her first FMO Conference with the Developing Artists Program in 2018, Cassidy has known that the FMO community was a place she could call home. An emerging singer-songwriter from Northern Ontario with a University background in Health Promotion, Cassidy is empowered to be a voice for youth and help shape the future for a thriving folk music community.

Umair Jaffar


Term ends 2024

Umair Jaffar is the Executive Director of Small World Music, one of Toronto’s pioneering and most significant presenters of culturally-diverse music. Since arriving in Toronto in 2014, he has worked in curatorial and management roles at cultural institutions including the Aga Khan Museum and Harbourfront Centre. Prior to immigrating, he was the CEO & Artistic Director for IPAC (Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture), a Pakistan-based non-profit social enterprise that focused on developing sustainable solutions for preserving and promoting indigenous, folk and traditional performing arts. Umair also serves as a board member for several non-profit art organizations including CAPACOA, North York Arts and MusiConnect Asia. He has an MBA from University of Adelaide, Australia and a MSc Cultural Anthropology from University of Oxford, UK.

Candace Shaw


Term ends 2024

Candace Shaw is a Feminist, Cultural Producer, and Activist who has been a fixture on the Canadian music scene for almost thirty years. She was the long-time Artistic Director for the Peterborough Folk Festival, Chair of the Shelter Valley Folk Festival, and Booker for the Music City Summer Series in The Distillery District, Toronto, amongst other roles. She is a thoughtful, engaging, and provocative commentator and advocate for women, the arts, and arts workers’ rights, and in 2019 was a candidate in the Federal election. Candace is the founder of Secret Frequency.ca, a not-for-profit advocacy and education organization working with under-represented people in the Canadian music industry.

Shakura S'Aida


Term ends 2026

Shakura S'Aida is an award-winning performer, who has travelled the globe for more than two decades, connecting and inspiring audiences with her powerful vocals. An undeniable talent and an advocate for human rights, her artistic work reflects that which impacts and connects us all: Community, life, and love. "I believe we all have a responsibility to look after each other," says the Toronto-based artist. "I see, create, and use music as a way to bring people together."

A central figure in Toronto's music scene, the Brooklyn-born, Swiss-raised entertainer has garnered not only an international recording and touring career but has shone on the theatre stage as star and creator of the four-woman tribute to Nina Simone, The Nina Project, and in roles on-screen including as Lena, member of the beloved "Jazzagals" in the acclaimed series Schitt's Creek, and most recently as Cora Lewis, mother to Batwoman in DC Comics / Warner Brothers hit series of the same name.

With her first new album in ten years, Shakura is back with Hold on to Love; this time in the producer chair alongside co-producers Donna Grantis (Prince/3rd Eye Girl), Keb' Mo, and Roger Costa (Jeff Healey).