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Dr. Cecilia Benoit

Professor at University of Victoria, social equity and social justice
Cecilia Benoit, PhD, of Qalipu Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry, is a Scientist at the Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research and Professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria, Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) and Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case. In 2020 she was awarded the Killam Prize for the Social Sciences, one of the most distinguished research awards in Canada, as well as the senior researcher Trailblazer Award in Population and Public Health Research for the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s primer granting agency for medical and health research. The overarching goal of Cecilia’s scholarship has been to increase social equity in health and health care and social inclusion for those who are disadvantaged and treated unfairly. She examines social inequities embedded in laws, policies, programs and research agendas and searches for evidence-based solutions. For the last 25 years she has conducted peer-reviewed social science research focused on documenting the lived and living experiences of people who sell sexual services across Canada and abroad, the identifying the intersecting factors determining their safety, health and social inclusion and how they compare to other marginalized and stigmatized groups. Her research has directly informed national health and social policy and impacted provincial and local program development, including piloting of the first peer health education program for sex workers in Canada, training them to become health advocates for others in their work and social networks. She has co-led comparative research projects on the sex industry and co-published research findings with colleagues from the USA, Chile, UK, Finland, New Zealand and Australia, resided as a visiting professor at universities in Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia and held various advisory positions and given keynote addresses at international conferences and symposia. Her recent voluntary activities include expert witness to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights examining Human Trafficking in Canada, academic advisor to the Chief Science Advisor, Government of Canada and expert witness in the 2021-2022 constitutional challenge of Canada’s prostitution criminal laws. She is currently an Associate Editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior and Sexes, guest editor of three other academic journals, Scientific Officer to CIHR, academic advisor to the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and Council institutional member of the RSC.