Benny Skinner (they/them) is a two-spirit/non-binary person from Ka’qaqujue’katik/Qalipue’katik, Ktaqmkuk and Pampanga, Luzon. They are Mi’kmaw (Lewis family, Otter Clan) and Kapampangan (Magtoto family). They hold a Bachelor of Arts, Peace and Conflict Studies degree and a Master of Arts, Global Governance degree. Benny’s areas of expertise include Indigenous methods and pedagogy, decolonization, gender, and sexuality. Currently, they are an Indigenous Research Advisor in the Office of the Vice President, Research and International at University of Waterloo, working to advance the institution’s strategic goals of decolonization, reconciliation, and Indigenization.
Benny also works as a professional human rights advocate with a specialization in trans and gender equity in sport. As a former varsity rugby player and coach, Benny was the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the varsity level at University of Waterloo, as well as the first openly transgender and Indigenous head coach of a varsity program in Ontario University Athletics. They were also the first openly transgender athlete to compete for the Canada Raven’s Rugby League program on international soil when they played in two test matches against Serbia in 2019. Their intersecting identities and their elite athletic career have conglomerated into a passion for putting representation, education, and activism at the forefront of their activities outside of their day job. This has tied neatly into Benny’s academic career, as their graduate studies research revolved around colonialism and gender/sexuality.