Cecilia Benoit – 2020 Killam Prize

Social Sciences

University of Victoria

As a distinguished social scientist, Cecilia Benoit’s work with socially excluded and stigmatized groups, in particular with sex workers, has made important contributions to Canadian public policy in the fields of women’s health, maternity care, and health service equity. Of Qalipu First Nation of Newfoundland heritage, she has dedicated her career to the promotion of class, race, and gender equality.

As a staunch advocate of the rights of marginalized communities, Cecilia Benoit’s research has impacted modern midwifery legislation in Canada and called attention to the importance of Indigenous ways of knowing. Her findings supported interventions that led to the recognition of Indigenous midwives as legitimate care providers and the acceptance of their traditional knowledge within education curricula.

As a scientist at the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and professor in the Department of Sociology, she has received numerous awards, including the Royal Society of Canada Ursula Franklin Award in Gender Studies and the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Through Cecilia Benoit’s research and support of the innovative “Her Way Home” program in Victoria, B.C., pregnant and parenting women with a history of substance use have had continuing access to primary health care and social supports that are culturally appropriate and nonjudgmental.

Her research and advocacy continue to shed light on social inequities within Canadian laws, social policies, and programs. Her commitment to the removal of these entrenched social barriers promotes the betterment of the health, safety, and dignity of marginalized communities throughout Canada.

photo credit: University of Victoria


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