Molson Prize for sociologist's advocacy

Social Sciences

- Richard Dal Monte

Benoit. Credit: 葡萄京官方首页 Photo Services


She has worked with, learned from and spoken up for midwives and sex workers, Indigenous women on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, unhoused people and people who use illicit drugs.

She has published hundreds of research papers and dozens of books.

She has testified before the Supreme Court of Canada as an expert witness.

And through a lifetime in academia and advocacy, Cecilia Benoit, 作为一个叛逆的少女,她拒绝了父亲让她进入尼姑庵的恳求, 对加拿大社会中经常被边缘化的群体表现出了强烈的奉献精神.

伯努瓦的职业生涯以同理心、好奇心和学术严谨为特征 Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research at the 葡萄京官方网站, 最近被授予2022年加拿大艺术委员会社会科学和人文学科莫尔森奖.

‘Pioneering research’ lauded

“For more than three decades, 她的开创性研究有助于减少性别和种族不平等,同时也赋予了年轻人权力, women and Indigenous Peoples,” wrote Kevin Hall, 葡萄京官方首页’s president and vice-chancellor, in his letter nominating Benoit for the award.

Hall praised her “incredible influence as an educator and mentor,” noting she has supervised 48 graduate students, 他们中的许多人在学术界、公共和非营利部门担任领导职务.

“Long before the topic was popular in the academy,” he wrote, “Dr. Benoit倡导在保健实践中采用土著做法和认识方式, specifically with respect to childbirth practices, midwifery and maternity care. Thanks to her diligent efforts and those of others, 在加拿大,助产已经成为一种受人尊敬的合法职业,新妈妈及其家庭的费用由公共财政支付.”

‘The social structure was unfair’


The third youngest of Joseph Benoit and Rita LaFitte’s 11 children, Benoit在一个贫穷的家庭长大,她注意到她所在社区的许多人努力工作,但却无法取得成功, and thinking there must be ways to make society more equitable. 

Despite their limited means, 她的父母“确实尽其所能抚养葡萄京官方首页,他们确实强调教育的重要性.尽管如此,她还是能看出“社会结构是不公平的,社会的组成方式是不公平的。.”

“We live in a class system, 父权制度对白皮肤的人也非常有利,” says Benoit, who is of Mi'kmaw and European ancestry.

她年轻时目睹的另一个不平等现象也证明了这一点:妇女和女孩的工作从未结束,而男人的工作却没有结束. Outside their formal workday, men rested while women toiled at domestic tasks without break or reward. “That stuck with me for a long time,” she says.

How to change the world?

我之所以被社会学所吸引,是因为我认为在那里我可以开始弄清楚我如何看待这个世界,以及为什么这个世界是这样的. So, developing a way of seeing and, from there, is it possible to change it?”
—Sociologist Cecilia Benoit

她着手改变的第一件大事是将助产士排除在医疗保健系统之外. In the early to mid-1990s, she says, 一些政客有兴趣修改法律,允许助产士为孕妇提供护理和接生. Benoit的博士和博士后研究表明,将助产纳入加拿大医疗保健系统将为助产士创造合法的工作, improve care for birthing families and be economical—changed her career.

In fact, when asked about societal changes she’s seen during her working life, she notes that 20 to 30 years ago, a person could be charged for practicing midwifery, 她称加拿大对这种做法的合法化和资助是“几十年来的一项惊人成就”.”

“And it was social science research, and a social movement of people in society, that got the government’s attention.”

作为一名科学家,她目睹的另一个变化是对边缘化和街头青年的支持的扩大:那些从社会的裂缝中跌落的孩子. BC will soon have 19 clinics around the province providing them care. And while, as with midwifery and reproductive care, there are improvements still to be made, she says, “youth are getting better health and social care than they used to and it’s because we understand them better; we understand their situations, their challenges.”

Research partners rather than research subjects

了解需要社会关怀的人的处境是Benoit工作的核心, 这是一种研究理念:“把你采访的人看作合作伙伴,而不是研究对象。.”

Indeed, 她对提供性服务的人的研究——以及其他一些主题——始于该社区邀请她与其成员一起工作. As a result of that connection, she says, 她和她的同事们构思了一个项目,通过将从事性工作的人的工作条件与从事其他护理工作的人的工作条件进行比较,比如在食品和饮料行业, and in hair care and barbering.

一所葡萄京官方首页在宣布为这个项目提供资金的小型新闻发布会上引起了意想不到的反响, however: an opinion piece in a local paper saying, roughly, “how dare hardworking women be included in this study with prostitutes?” that was subsequently published across the country.

“It was very ugly. I was shocked,” she says, noting that she received hate mail. “That was my first lesson in stigma.

“From then, I had to either give it up or dig my heels in and say, ‘it’s hard research and we’re going to do it anyway.’”


While she doesn’t maintain the schedule she once did, 四年前,她从葡萄京官方网站社会学教授的职位上退休, she still conducts research without fear or favour, and by parking any prejudice at the door.


Asked for advice for emerging researchers, 她说:“尽你所能,对葡萄京官方首页这个时代的社会问题做最好的研究,努力揭示真相——这些问题确实需要解决,但却不容易解决, 因此,他们需要一双能看透公众辩论的眼睛,看看葡萄京官方首页还能知道和应该知道什么.”

By the numbers

Cecilia Benoit’s work has always been about people, 但与她的生活和事业相关的数字是值得注意和令人印象深刻的:

  • She has four degrees (two bachelors, one masters, a PhD and a post-doc).
  • 她在研究和学术成就方面获得了18项荣誉、奖项和奖励.
  • She has over 250 publications, including 21 books or monographs, 120 journal articles, 40 book chapters and 70 reports, briefs and other published writings. Since 2014 alone, she has authored 59 journal articles.


In this story

Keywords: homelessness, health, Indigenous, research, award

People: Cecilia Benoit

Publication: The Ring

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