Cecilia Benoit teaches sociology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, channelling her energy, expertise and passion for social justice to advancing the social rights of women and girls. A member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaw First Nation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Benoit conducts research in a range of areas, including: women’s social rights; Indigenous women's health; midwifery and maternity care; health inequities facing vulnerable populations; and substance use and misuse. With more than 200 published articles, books, book chapters and government reports to her credit, Dr. Benoit is in great demand as a keynote speaker, guest lecturer, and expert presenter at conferences and other gatherings. Her ongoing, informed advice to governments across Canada is perhaps one of her most valued contributions. She has had a significant impact on local, provincial and national policy and programs in such areas as: services for vulnerable women in the sex work, including those who use drugs; midwives as legitimate maternity providers; the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in midwifery training; client-centered care for urban Indigenous women; and integrated health services for street-involved youth and substance-using pregnant women. An inspiring role model, she has mentored 40 graduate students – most of whom are women and many of whom have gone on to successful careers in public service. Dr. Benoit has received numerous awards and honours, including the Royal Society of Canada Award in Gender Studies, the Research Canada Leadership Award, the BC Community Achievement Award, and several research excellence and public/community service recognition awards. Dr. Benoit lives in Victoria, B.C.
Anna-Louise Crago is dedicated to following an inclusive path toward building gender equality, with courage and integrity, in Canada and abroad. Currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, she brings her lived experience in sex work to her studies in anthropology and ground-breaking human-rights initiatives. For two decades, she has been a human rights advocate, social service-provider and researcher alongside, and as part of, sex worker and street-involved communities. At Stella, Montréal’s centre for and by sex workers, Ms. Crago served as coordinator of health and social services. Along with her colleagues at Stella, she was co-recipient of the AIDS Action Award in 2006, given by Human Rights Watch. Ms. Crago has worked with sex workers in over 25 countries in many regions to document the human rights violations they face. She was lead author of a report on violence against sex workers by state-actors in Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia that Human Rights Watch called “ground breaking research” that should serve as a “catalyst to the human rights community.” In 2013, she received the prestigious Trudeau Doctoral Scholar Award from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, to pursue research on sex workers’ experience during armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ms. Crago has been influential in advancing policies on a global level that are key in changing country-level approaches to the HIV epidemic to include thousands of sex workers in access to prevention and treatment while addressing violence against sex workers and the harms of criminalization.
Lucia Lorenzi is a tireless advocate for gender equality in Canada. As a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, she was a campus organizer around issues of rape culture, harassment and misogyny, and has become a prominent voice in the national conversation on campus violence. As an outspoken assault survivor, Dr. Lorenzi has used her own experience as a basis for education. Through public dialogue and personal vulnerability, she has involved both survivors and communities at large in creating strategies for safer, better-informed, and more supportive environments for women. She has served on the UBC Sexual Assault Expert Panel, which made recommendations for the university’s sexual assault policy, worked with EVA BC on the Western Canada Sexual Violence Initiative, and worked with Toronto-based feminist organization femifesto on their media guide for reporting about sexual assault. As a writer and blogger, she works to challenge rape culture. Dr. Lorenzi uses social media to promote an understanding of contemporary gender equality issues, particularly rape culture and sexualized violence; many of her posts have gone viral. Her writing offers a clear, brave, hopeful voice for change online, where misogyny is a daily reality. Dr. Lorenzi’s academic career is also focused on addressing sexualized and gendered violence, and her research has been recognized with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Having earned her PhD in English Literature from UBC in 2016, she now works as an independent scholar and consultant. Dr. Lorenzi lives in Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Pascale Navarro believes that when women work together, they can change the world – and she has set out to prove it. A journalist and author/co-author of numerous books, articles, scripts, and other publications and productions, she focuses primarily on women, women’s contributions, and women’s participation in politics and decision-making. Ms. Navarro is passionate about the full spectrum of gender equality issues, from pornography to systemic gender discrimination to women and political power. Whatever the issue, she delves deep, and then shares her knowledge, ideas and perspectives through a range of media that reach every sector of society. Over the past quarter century, Ms. Navarro has penned countless articles for many Canadian publications, including La Gazette des femmes, La Presse and Le Devoir. A skilled communicator and lifelong feminist, she uses her expertise and perspective to advance women’s equality, conducting extensive research. Her recent book (Femmes et pouvoir : les changements nécessaires) calls for gender parity in politics. It is the result of many years of intense field research involving extensive worldwide travel. Ms. Navarro is also a dedicated volunteer, contributing to several organizations. She currently is a member of the Board of directors for Femmes, Politique et Démocratie, and also served on the Femmes de mérite selection committee for the Y des femmes de Montréal. She regularly meets with journalism and literature students, as well as various women’s groups and assemblies, to discuss the various strategies they may use to challenge society to change and embrace gender equality. She has received several honours, including the Prix Roseline-Ledoux, as well as awards from the Société des écrivains canadiens and Femmes de mérite du Y des femmes de Montréal. Ms. Navarro lives in Montréal.
Norma Jean Profitt
Norma Jean Profitt has relentlessly pursued the interconnected goals of advancing equality for women and girls, and ending gender-based violence. As an academic, she conducted pivotal research on violence against women and child protection issues, combining theory and practice to influence policy makers and educators alike to create lasting change. Dr. Profitt has also worked at the grass-roots level: in rural Nova Scotia, improving access to services for women by addressing issues of mental health, substance use and sexualized violence; in Halifax, as director of a transition shelter for women and children escaping abuse; and in New Brunswick, by promoting second-stage housing, family violence outreach, and services for newcomers. During her years as an educator, Dr. Profitt engaged in cross-cultural exchange, building affirmative, woman-centred social work practices by using innovative measures, such as inviting women living in poverty to the classroom to share their experiences. A true community builder, Dr. Profitt engages with women in their collective, endeavours, using her leadership skills to work within diverse communities to create transformative change. A prime example of her unique leadership approach is her ground-breaking work in Costa Rica, where she developed a framework on gender violence that sparked a cascade of activism, awareness and action – including the first national march on violence against women in the nation’s capital, San José – workshops, support groups, networking, educational materials, social action and more. The author of numerous publications and articles, and a valued speaker, Dr. Profitt lives in Nova Scotia.
Diane Redsky is a proud mother of three children, a Kookum (grandmother) and a member of First Nation Shoal Lake #40 who has made it her life’s work to advance gender equality, particularly for Indigenous women. A noted Canadian visionary thinker and community leader, she is Executive Director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. She plays a pivotal leadership role in the Centre – the largest non-profit, Indigenous-led organization in Manitoba, employing 250 Indigenous persons, engaging more than 750 community volunteers and providing 50 programs. Ms. Redsky also served as Project Director of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. The Task Force works with international partners to develop a strategy and recommendations, targeting such issues as what make victims vulnerable to sex trafficking. She has also been a driving force in developing resources for sexually exploited youth in Manitoba, including establishing a safe house and rural healing lodge. Ms. Redsky advocates tirelessly for programs and services that benefit Indigenous women, their families and communities. Recently, she was instrumental in bringing to Winnipeg Maori leaders from New Zealand, who gifted her with the responsibility to deliver and teach family group conferencing – an approach that heals the cycle of Indigenous family breakdown in the wake of residential schools and colonization. Since 1995, Ms. Redsky has headed her own consulting business, focusing on initiatives benefiting First Nations communities. She has received numerous awards, including the Leadership Award from the Joy Smith Foundation (2016) and the Order of Manitoba (2013). Ms. Redsky lives in Winnipeg.
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