The 3rd Annual Zoomer List: Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: Keren Rice

Keren Rice, 63, Language Activist

A leader in the study of Aboriginal languages, linguistics professor Rice, founding director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, has created a grammar and in-depth dictionary of one dialect of the Slavey language of Canada’s Northwest Territories and helped standardize its written form. Her achievements garnered the 2011 Killam Prize, a $100,000 award for outstanding Canadian scholars, and the 2012 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, worth $50,000, in the social sciences and humanities category. Rice plans to use the funds to create scholarships for grad students in linguistics and support efforts of Aboriginal teachers and students in the N.W.T. “The public has become so much more aware of the value of languages. The award tells us [Canadians] value the people who speak these languages – and the languages they speak.”