Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: 2012

Zoomer | July 30th, 2013

The 3rd Annual Zoomer List (2012): Canada’s Top 45 over 45. Here, the editors of Zoomer magazine bring you those who, in the last year, have made a difference in their chosen fields and passions while improving our lives and that of our country.

1. Sherry Abbott, 53

Cancer Care Advocate. In 1992, she was a 32-year-old cosmetic executive who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She fought the disease and won but during her time as a cancer patient, she witnessed a gap in care for women living with the disease. Thanks in large part to Abbott’s dedication to filling that gap, this fall marks the 20th anniversary of the charitable program, Look Good Feel Better, where women with cancer participate in seminars for makeup and hair application so they can look and feel more like themselves during and after treatment. Established in Canada by the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation, where Abbott currently is executive director, the group also launched the website, creating an online community for women to connect, as part of their 2010 program
Facing Cancer Together. “Not only is it my passion, it’s both an honour and a privilege to be part of an organization so dedicated to supporting women at one of the most challenging times of their life because no woman should ever have to face cancer alone.”

2. Paul Alofs, 56

CEO of the Princess  Margaret Hospital Foundation. During his nine years at PMHF – Alofs has brought 25 years of corporate experience – he helped raise $550 million. He’s now spearheading a new campaign to raise $1 billion for research into personalized cancer treatments. His book, Passion Capital, shares his observations on how institutions can harness workers’ energy and intensity. “Passion Capital is a brand new asset class and a new way to think about success. Passion Capital is the energy plus intensity plus sustainability that people of all ages generate when they learn how to ‘put their passion to work.’ ”

3. Charlie Angus, 49

MP, Timmins-James Bay, ONT. Blogging for Huffington Post in November 2011, the NDP MP shocked Canadians with his account of living conditions in Attawapiskat, a remote First Nation reserve in Ontario’s far north. The Timmins, Ont.-born writer documented a visit he had made to the forgotten poverty-stricken community where people lived in shacks,with no plumbing or electricity. His story went viral, and the government was forced to take action. “In a country as rich and as just as Canada, this is simply unacceptable.”

4. Barbara Arrowsmith Young, 61

Founder Arrowsmith Program, author. As a child, she suffered from multiple cognitive defects that caused her to read and write words backwards and left her unable to tell time. The Woman Who Changed Her Brain and Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation tells the story of her incredible journey as she developed cognitive exercises to correct her neurological deficits and then created exercises for cognitive defects. She founded the Arrowsmith School in Toronto, and her program is now used in 40 schools across North America and expanding into Australia. “We can shape our brains through harnessing neuroplasticity, which opens a world of possibilities for people challenged by learning disabilities.”

5. Kehar Singh Aujla, 79

IndispensAble Volunteer. A day after retiring in 2005 (at age 72), he began volunteering in earnest, putting in 40-plus hours weekly, serving nine community organizations – among them are his Sikh temple, the Burnaby Village Museum, Burnaby General Hospital, the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Volunteer Grandparents. His effort has brought accolades, including the Kushiro Cup as Burnaby’s Citizen of the Year for 2011 and a listing as one of Canadian Immigrant magazine’s Top 25 Immigrants for 2012. He cheekily told the latter: “When I was working, I was a slave to the organization. As a volunteer, they are my servant. They can’t kick me out!”

6. Lisa Brown, 50

Executive/Artistic Director. A registered nurse, Brown started a theatre company 25 years ago for artists with mental health or addiction issues. Today, Workman Arts (WA) has broadened its scope and spawned original plays, a film festival, an annual art exhibit – even a wearable art fashion show. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada awarded WA the 2011 Pioneer Recovery Award for Excellence for promoting education, support, wellness and recovery in the field of mental health. “I made a choice to focus on the art and the abilities and strengths of the individual, not on any perceived disability. I was quite proud [the award] identified us as an organization that aids in recovery, even though that is not our immediate focus.”

7. Walter Carsen, OC, 100

Arts Patron. The German-born Carsen landed on Canadian shores during the Second World War and started a business selling optical supplies, which grew into a successful company. The financial rewards were able to fuel his lifelong passion for the arts and resulted in numerous donations of both artworks – to the AGO, for one – and funding – Carsen paid for the renovation of the Shaw Festival Royal George Theatre, established the Walter Carsen Prize for the Perform- ing Arts and has underwritten 12 National Ballet productions as well as donating the lead gift for the construction of the company’s permanent home, known as the Walter Carsen Centre for the National Ballet of Canada. “I encourage people to become involved with living artists. Having the opportunity to interact with them and learn from them is the best portal from which to enter the arts.”

8. Jessie Davies, 70

Environmentalist. As co-chair of Save Passamaquoddy Bay Canada (she’s retired from the position of director, environment and sustainable development research centre at the University of New Brunswick), she coalesced coastal residents, Canadian and American, to take on “big energy.” They’re fighting liquid natural gas transportation along the coast of Maine and New Brunswick. Davies has helped raise more than $1 million toward efforts that include the creation of Pagan Point Nature Preserve, a 12-hectare marine salt marsh and forest turned protected ecological tourist site in Charlotte County, N.B. “In my work for protected natural areas, it’s a sense of wonder and hope that something so beautiful and important can be preserved forever.”

9. Larry Duffield, 70

Immediate past chair of CARP’s Windsor, Ont., Chapter. After nearly 37 years with the federal department of foreign affairs and international trade – 25 years spent in foreign postings – Duffield “retired” to Windsor, Ont., in 2004, where he and his wife, Joyce, now operate a B&B. Volunteering has always been part of his psyche, and he campaigns tirelessly to make his adopted hometown age-friendly. Duffield is active with Meals on Wheels, the Windsor Seniors Advisory Committee, the Centre for Seniors Windsor and Canterbury College as well as being a founding member
of ElderCollege at the University of Windsor. The city’s mayor, Eddie Francis, called Duffield an inspiration when he presented him with the Senior of the Year Award this past July. “We have a disproportionate number of seniors who are healthier and wealthier than any generation before. The senior population is of enormous importance. From a social policy point of view, we’re struggling with the cost of health care and social services. It is wrong to sideline seniors. We are not only part of the solution – we are the solution.”

10. Dr. Mike Evans, 48

Family Physician. The animation is slick yet straightforward, the message is simple – just do 30 minutes a day of exercise (low impact such as walking) – and it runs more than nine minutes, an eternity by online standards. But 23 and 1/2 Hours: What Is the Single Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your Health? has received more than four million views since its YouTube launch last December. As radio show host, TV personality, columnist and author of the children’s book, Adventures of Medical Man, Evans embraced online as just another medium to engage patients and the general public about their health and caring for it. “I think it’s time for a new paradigm of healthcare where we engage the most powerful partner – the public.”

11. Earl Fee, 83

Runner, hurdler. So far, he has set 55 world masters records and still runs 200-metre hurdles and 200-metre, 400-metre and 800-metre races where he regularly competes against a field of eight to 12. (Masters athletes compete by age in five-year age groups, beginning at 35-39.) Hailed as The Great Earl on the track, he’s confident he’ll add more records when he reaches the 85-90-age category. “I think my real age is 10 years younger than my actual age, which helps me when I line up for the race,” he observes. This past year, Fee released 100 Years Young the Natural Way: Body, Mind and Spirit Training, a book promoting longevity. “I have a chapter on Tantric sex and it’s the first chapter people turn to.”

12.  Niv Fichman, 53

Filmmaker. So, you want to be a big-time movie director? For a handful of rookie filmmakers, Rhombus Media’s Fichman, who produced such notable films as The Red Violin and 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, is making that dream a reality. Through a partnership with Alliance Atlantis, the First-Time Filmmaker Initiative helps hopefuls from around the world – and Canada – make their films while picking up the tab. Now, only a few years in, the initiative is paying off with upcoming premieres including a screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. “We can only hope the future is kind to this new crop of filmmakers. They are gutsy, ambitious and innovative and can create great Canadian films that will make a mark at home and all over the world.”

13. Dr. Chris Frank, 48

Family Physician. He discovered a love for the complexity of geriatric care during residency and committed himself to the field where specialists are still in short supply. His involvement seems tireless: a former president of the Canadian Geriatrics Society, he currently chairs an elderly health program for the College of Family Physicians and a national elderly care education initiative on top of day jobs as clinical leader of specialized geriatrics services at Providence Care in Kingston and assistant professor in the department of medicine at Queen’s University. “I love the connection to history that I get working with older people.”

14.  Dr. Cy Frank, 63

Orthopedic Surgeon-scientist. His work as a surgeon, his musculoskeletal research on ligament healing and transplantation, and also his research on gene therapy are leading the way toward finding a cure and better treatments for ailments such as arthritis. He was named one of Alberta’s top 50 Most Influential People for 2011 and is currently leading the province’s osteoarthritis team, which received a $5 million grant from Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions to continue its research. “My work matters, and it keeps me motivated literally every day because I feel that I can have a positive impact on the lives of many other people while challenging myself to continue to learn and improve.”

15. Dr. Ralf Gellert, 46

Physicist. Has there ever been life on Mars? If anyone ever answers that question, it will likely be this man. A German-born physicist now working at the University of Guelph, this past August, Dr. Gellert was on hand at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., sweating out the landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity. That’s because one of the most important tools onboard the Curiosity – the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer – was engineered by Dr. Gellert. By monitoring the chemical composition of rocks on the Red Planet, he hopes his APXS will help shed some light
on the mysterious past of our closest neighbour in the galaxy. “It’s a detective story. You get clues … and try to discover what happened billions of years ago [on Mars].”

16. Supt. Craig Gibson, 55

First African-Canadian commanding officer of the RCMP. He is used to making a difference in communities across Canada, as he’s done in his 30-plus years on the job. But this summer, he made history, becoming the RCMP’s first black commanding officer when he took the top post in Prince Edward Island. Gibson, who currently co-chairs the National Advisory Committee for Visible Minorities, says he hopes his promotion will inspire all RCMP members to advance their careers within the organization. “I have had the opportunity to mentor several visible minority RCMP members during my career and will continue to promote diversity in the RCMP.”

17. The God Particle’s Physicists

When scientists announced the possible discovery of the Higgs boson, or God particle, in July, the country proudly celebrated the finding’s Canadian connection.

Nigel Lockyer, 58, director of TRIUMF

Think of him as a super-sleuth in the world of particle physics. After decades of searching for the painfully elusive Higgs boson, he joined Vancouver-based TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, as its director in 2007. Once there, he solidified the data analysis team and helped co-ordinate it with common efforts around the world. The years of dedication to the elusive by Lockyer and thousands of others finally paid off with the discovery of a particle that is consistent with the Higgs boson. “I do have an osmotic collective sense of success.”

Rob McPherson, 48, principal investigator at ATLAS

First, Canadians helped build ATLAS, a large particle detector located at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland. When it proved to be one of the pivotal experiments that led to the aforementioned possible discovery of the Higgs boson, it was McPherson at the helm as principal investigator of a 150-member team. The discovery itself was a momentous group success – a “tremendous validation” of the decades of work that led to it – but it also marked the culmination of McPherson’s personal 15-year search for the Higgs boson. And like any good researcher, he views the achievement as simply the beginning of an even greater scientific journey. “I see the Higgs as the first step to a much deeper understanding of matter and energy in the universe … There are tantalizing hints that [dark energy and  dark matter are] deeply connected to the Higgs particle, and we will learn this, using ATLAS and the LHC over the coming decade.”

18. Christopher Goodman, 57, and Angela Zissoff, 52

Stained glass artists. The married duo from B.C. have continued the tradition began by Goodman’s father, Russell, over 55 years ago. Known for their blend of modern and traditional styles, they’ve produced some of the country’s most famous windows, including one of the largest in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Thunder Bay, Ont. When the artists were given the task of creating a window to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the initial concept was to celebrate just the sovereign; however, after circulation through the department of heritage and the Senate Chambers, the idea developed to include Queen Victoria’s 60 years of reign. Within two years, this neo-Gothic–stylized, 13-foot tall, 500-piece window was installed in the main entrance to the Senate of Canada and dedicated on Feb. 7, 2012. Says Zissoff: “I wanted to portray the Monarchs in a manner that instilled pride
in our heritage (Queen Victoria’s side) and a guiding ideal for the future (Queen Elizabeth’s side).”

19. Chris Hadfield, 53

Astronaut. He has spent most of this year training for this career-defining moment: in December 2012, the Canadian astronaut from Sarnia, Ont., will lift off aboard the Russian spaceship Soyuz, en route to the International Space Station, becoming
the first Canuck ever to command a spaceship. Hadfield has been to the heavens before: in 1995, he was a crew member of the space shuttle Atlantis and in 2001, he flew aboard Endeavour, where he became the first Canadian to participate in a space walk. So how does Hadfield plan to spend his leisure time in space? By playing guitar, of course. “If you can imagine floating weightless, watching the world pour by through the big bay window of the space station, playing a guitar … just a tremendous place to think about where we are in history.”

20. Dr. Gerry Halbert, 78, and Todd Halpern, 52

Co-Chairs, Brain Campaign. As co-leaders of the Brain Campaign (founded in 2011), they are committed to raising $200 million for more labs, equipment, support staff, fellowship programs and renovations at the Krembril Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital to ensure further discoveries in research and patient care. The centre is considered among the top in the world for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and, with the Brain Campaign, the centre hopes to continue its rich history of successes in surgery and medical firsts. Says Halpern: “Diseases of the brain are poised to become a major health threat over the next five years. The Brain Campaign will support the scientists and doctors who are finding the cures for these debilitating neurological conditions.”

21. Corey Hart, 50

Musician. The Montreal-born singer-songwriter blasted to the top of the charts in 1983 with his mega-hit Sunglasses at Night; however, decades later it was his 1988 song, Truth Will Set You Free, that has him making headlines again. Hart maintains he always intended it as a gay-positive song – he had many gay friends in the ’80s who had felt the sting of prejudice – but after the murder of gay student Matthew Shepard in 1998, he felt more strongly then ever about the issue of discrimination. His opportunity to make a real statement came this year when approached by a DJ who wanted permission to remix the tune: Hart punched up the lyrics and rerecorded it, making its pro-gay themes less cryptic. The result is a new verse about Shepard. Hart – who is straight and married with four children – also performed the tune at Toronto Pride this past June as a pro-gay anthem, telling a newspaper: “I think it was important that if I’m going to make a statement that I stand behind it physically and in every capacity that an artist can, which is to go on stage and perform.”

22. Jamaica 50 Leaders

Canada is home to the third largest Jamaican immigrant population in the world, and whether we’re celebrating Donovan Bailey’s gold medals, grooving to the likes of Jully Black or savouring the ubiquitous patties – their contributions are undeniable. This year to mark Jamaica’s independence jubilee, a cultural festival was created – and what a party it was.

Pamela Appelt, 69, director (she is a former judge of the Court of Canadian Citizenship) says: “The events serve to educate not only ourselves but other members of the Canadian family about the importance of sharing our history, culture and dreams so that together this country can be enriched, and the next generation can see themselves reflected in a positive way.”

Joe Halstead, 60, president (currently chairman of Ontario Place Corporation) says: “The legacy of Jamaica 50 is to represent the positive impact of this vibrant community of Jamaicans in Canada who are accomplished and engaged and give back to all Canadians.”

Len D. Henry, 56, brand director (television producer, director) says: “I learnt many years ago to imbue my work with my heritage. This lesson instantly freed my approach to everything – lighting, sound, movement, structure, shape, design – with the same warm smile – I am Jamaican.”

23. Stephen “Buddha” Leafloor, 53

Hip-hopping Youth Worker. He brings a team of tough rappers and hip-hoppers to High Arctic communities and correctional institutes for intense five-day BluePrintForLife workshops. They reach angry, hope-drained kids through dance, encouraging singing, drumming and storytelling that gets them working together and examining their culture to promote healing. Following intensive interviews, Leafloor has recently been made an Ashoka Fellow for Canada. Ashoka, a prestigious global organization, connects social entrepreneurs who have system-changing ideas with supportive business, academic and public sector partners. “I’m real jazzed on new approaches in mental health. Probably what gave birth to hip-hop was not a plan by social workers and the city; it was the human spirit going ‘We’re going to survive in our own community.’ That resonates everywhere in the world.”

24. David H. Levy, 63

Amateur astronomer. He may have pursued degrees in English literature, but he dedicated himself to the field of astronomy. His accomplishments, which are every bit astronomical, include discovering 23 comets over the last half century, authoring 35 books (most of which on the subject of astronomy), hosting the aptly named Let’s Talk Stars Internet talk show, co-designing a special edition telescope named after him and collecting honorary doctorates in addition to his PhD on Allusions to Celestial Events in early modern English literature, of course. This year,
the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada even posted his personal logs online, with tens of thousands of extraterrestrial hunting entries exem- plifying devotion to what started as a childhood hobby. He told the Globe and Mail: “You can’t be an amateur surgeon but you can be an amateur astronomer and accomplish a lot of things.”

25. Dr. Joe MacInnis, 75

Medical doctor, explorer, motivational speaker, author He describes himself as an “accidental leader” in his new book, Deep Leadership: Essential Insights from High-Risk Environments, but he has lived his life with purpose. He has worked with the U.S. Navy, the Canadian government, the Russian Academy of Sciences, NASA and with James Cameron on his Titanic dives and record-breaking solo dive to the earth’s deepest point. MacInnis has led or participated in more than 50 major undersea expeditions and logged more time in the Arctic Ocean than any other scientist. “Spending treasured moments with my wife, children and grandchildren was my most important accomplishment this year. Three months in the Western Pacific as the journalist and backup physician on James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition – when he made his epic seven-mile dive – was a close second.”

26. Dr. Tak Mak, 66

Researcher. Dr. Tak Mak’s discoveries have made seminal contributions to the understanding of immunity, especially for cancer and HIV-AIDS. It started with his renowned breakthrough in cloning T-cell receptor genes more than 25 years ago and, most recently, he led an international team that identified an oncometabolite, a mutated metabolic enzyme linked with the onset of acute myeloid leukemia, one of the most common types of leukemia in adults. This finding will help in developing inhibitors to block the mutation and hopefully prevent the disease. He is currently  director of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital and senior scientist in the division of stem cell and developmental biology at the Ontario Cancer Institute. “I started out in life to become a priest but then became captivated by the splendour of science.

27. Preston Manning, 70

President and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. After decades in municipal, provincial and federal politics, he still champions the cause of democratic and political reform in Canada. As president of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, which he and his wife, Sandra, founded in 2005, Manning advocates for the education and training of political activists. A Companion of the Order of Canada, Manning is also involved with the Fraser Institute and the Canada West Foundation. As he succinctly put it at this year’s ideacity, “If you want to work at Starbucks as a barrista, you need 30 hours of training, but you can become a member of Parliament without one hour of training.”

28. Ian Millar, 65

Equestrian Show Jumper. The lanky six-foot-one rider, a.k.a. Captain Canada, made the records books in London 2012 by being the only athlete ever to compete in 10 Olympic Games. That he also managed a personal best, finishing fifth individually, was icing on the cake. Millar won a team silver medal in Hong Kong’s Beijing Games in 2008 and isn’t ruling out an 11th Olympic appearance. “My first Olympics was Munich in 1972. I am better now than I was then, in knowledge and experience …The horse I have right now is Star Power.  If he’s willing to go to Rio, I’m willing.  If Star Power wants to go, he cannot go without me.”

29. Thomas Mulcair, 57

Leader, NDP. In March 2012, the NDP elected him to lead them as they took their turn as official Opposition. An Ottawa-born lawyer and law professor, Mulcair was given a daunting task: not only must he position the NDP as an electable governing alternative to the Conservatives, but he must do so while the memories of the mega-popular Jack Layton still linger with party faithful. The new leader has not shied away from controversy during his short stint: this spring, he risked alienating supporters in Alberta by criticizing the oilsands, saying they’re ruining the environment and decimating Canada’s manufacturing sector. “We’re allowing these companies to use the air, the soil and the water as an unlimited free dumping ground. Their model for development is Nigeria.”

30. David Onley, 62

Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor Having lived with polio and post-polio syndrome since the age of three, he has always been an advocate for people with disabilities. As a news anchor, science and technology specialist, and weatherman for Citytv, he was Canada’s first senior newscaster with a visible disability. During his installation as lieutenant-governor in 2007, he declared that he was adopting accessibility as the overarching theme for his term. This year, he received the Canadian Helen Keller Centre Award for his outstanding contributions in helping remove barriers for people with physical disabilities. “I wish to continue to raise awareness about accessibility for people with disabilities and the importance to the economy of lowering the unacceptably high level of unemployment for disabled people. Much of this is based on employers’ misperceptions and belief in negative myths about hiring people with disabilities.”

31. Steve Paikin, 52

Anchor and Senior Editor The Agenda with Steve Paikin. This fall marks the 20th anniversary for multiple Gemini-nominated Paikin as TVO’s current affairs host. But 2012 was notable for other reasons, too: he received an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University, a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and was named the most influential Queen’s Park journalist on Twitter by public affairs consultancy and PR firm  Hill + Knowlton Strategies. Paikin’s latest book – his take on 50 years of Ontario politics – is due out next year. “It’s a privilege to talk with some of the brightest people in depth five nights a week with no commercial interruptions. Canadians consistently demonstrate an appetite for this kind of
depth, as evidenced by the fact that
The Agenda is about to embark on its seventh season.”

32. Fred Penner, 66

Children’s entertainer. As host of TV’s Fred Penner’s Place for more than a decade beginning in the mid-’80s, the legendary children’s entertainer sang songs and captivated kids from his secret hiding spot in the forest. Now, 15 years after his show went off the air, those kids are grown up and rediscovering Fred Penner. Aside from performing festivals and concerts nationwide, the 2011 Order of Manitoba recipient plays universities, reconnecting with his fans and spreading his message “about basic human values and concepts, our need for home, respect, love, communication and understanding.” And, he admits, renditions of The Cat Came Back. “These intelligent young people affirm my original message and philosophy: if you make a positive contact with the vulnerable spirit of the child, you can affect adult attitudes.”

33. Christopher Plummer, 82

Actor. Genie, Emmy and Tony have been kind to the former Zoomer cover man and, this year, Oscar finally paid him his due. In March he became the oldest actor to ever win an Academy Award for his supporting role in the film Beginners. Still, despite reaching a career high, there’s no time to rest on his laurels. With a number of film roles on the go, plus the success of his recent, critically lauded one man show A Word or Two, Plummer may have to make some more space in his ever-expanding trophy case. “I love my profession. It keeps me young… I’ve had a wonderful life, seen the world and they’ve paid for it!”

34. Dr. Neville Poy, 77

Retired Plastic Surgeon, Photographer. In 1967, he was exactly the new hire Scarborough General Hospital needed – a plastic surgeon specializing in burns and hand repair, the first in Canada. This November, 17 years into retirement, the now Scarborough Hospital will honour Poy – who is Adrienne Clarkson’s brother – with the inaugural Scarborough World Gala Lifetime Achievement Award. Because of a higher incidence of chronic kidney disease among those of Asian and South Asian heritage in the community, proceeds from the gala will expand dialysis facilities and build a new renal care site. “This is particularly meaningful to our family since my son, Justin, had lost both kidneys since age 11 and has had dialysis and three kidney transplants. At 43, he now enjoys excellent health and a most productive life.”

35. Alison Redford, 47

Premier of Alberta. It came down to a battle of the women, not the sexes this spring, as Redford took on Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Alliance Party, which polls and pundits predicted to triumph over the Conservatives and their 40-year rule in the province. Redford, a human rights and constitutional reform lawyer whose 30-year career in politics includes policy adviser to former Prime Minister Joe Clark and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Alberta, prevailed over Smith on election night – with a majority government no less  – to become the first female premier of Alberta. In her acceptance speech she spoke of her mother who passed away 4 days prior to her win: “I’m proud of my mom … She got me involved in politics 30 years ago. She’s a big part of the reason I’m here, and I’m thinking about her tonight.”

36. 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.”

37. Phil Richards, 61

Artist. The Toronto-based artist admits he had dreamed of painting an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. His dream came true when he was commissioned by the Government of Canada to create the Diamond Jubilee Portrait. Richards submitted his work for consideration and the Queen made the final decision, choosing him to create the new portrait. He says that when the Queen unveiled the painting, she paused, turned to him and said, “Philip, this has changed. This has changed quite a bit since I last saw it.” His response was, “Yes, it went from six inches to this.” – this being the much larger nine by six feet unframed. The Queen then turned to Governor General David Johnston and asked, “Are you going to have to rebuild Rideau Hall to get it in?” His reply? “I think we can find a spot for it.” Indeed, he did; the painting hangs on the main wall of the Ballroom of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, which is the site of many official ceremonies and one accessible to all Canadians; so much so that some call it the Heart of Canada. “The opportunity to meet and work with Queen Elizabeth II was certainly a high point … she was fully engaged in the development of the portrait, which made my task of painting her image that much easier.”

38. Joe Roberts, 45

Skid Row CEO. He was a homeless drug addict when at 24, his mother and the Salvation Army intervened. Roberts entered rehab and turned his life around, getting a college degree and eventually becoming the CEO of a multi-media development company. Years later, he was named one of Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 Outstanding Business People and one of Maclean’s 10 Canadians Who Make a Difference. After stepping down from the company he is now known as the Skid Row CEO, touring the world giving motivational talks. He is also devoted to helping kids escape his former life – drugs and the streets. To that end, next year Roberts will push a shopping cart across Canada, covering close to 8,000 kilometres, to raise funds for at-risk youth. The website for the cause is “There is more in kids than they can see – my life is being poured out in an attempt to create legacy for kids at risk, kids that deserve a second chance, kids like me.”

39. Jeff Rubin, 58

Economist, Author. While chief economist at CIBC World Markets, where he worked for more than 20 years, he was one of the first economists to accurately predict soaring oil prices back in 2000. In his bestseller in 2009, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, he looked at the global economy when you took away cheap oil. His follow-up, The End of Growth, which he discussed at this year’s ideacity, is a dissertation on what the end of cheap oil means to the economy. “Far from the apocalypse that economists fear, the end of growth may just be what in the end sustains us in an increasingly finite world.” 

40. Doug Saunders, 45

Journalist, Author. As the Globe and Mail’s European bureau chief and international-affairs columnist, he has won the National Newspaper Award (Canadian equivalent to the Pulizter Prize) four times and his first book, Arrival City, won the Donner Prize, the award for the best public policy book by a Canadian in 2010. His latest book, the acclaimed The Myth of the Muslim Tide, was published in August and debunks several populist claims about Muslims. Saunders draws on demographic and statistical evidence as well as scholars to show historical parallels to other ethnic groups tarred with the same brush and falsely so. “I’m fascinated with the inner workings of our world – the great movements of people, the growth of cities – that shape our lives but tend to go unnoticed.”

41. Darryl Sutter, 54

Coach, L.A. Kings. In December 2011, the Los Angeles Kings, a 45-year-old franchise, was struggling through a desultory season when they convinced him to leave his cattle farm in his hometown of Viking, Alta., and take over as head coach. From a clan of seven boys (six of whom played in the NHL), Sutter had an eight-year playing career and has been a coach since 1992 with the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames. The gruff taskmaster instituted his familiar brand of tough hockey, transforming the Kings’ fortunes and shocking the sporting world by leading them to their first taste of Stanley Cup glory. “It’s something you do from when you’re a little boy. You always play for the Stanley Cup.”

42. Lesley Thompson-Willie, 53

Coxswain. Canada’s women’s eight rowing team trusts her completely. She steers their 64-foot boat, corrects their stroke and sets them up to win the 2,000-metre races. At the 2012 Olympics in London, when her voice – calm, intense, fierce – asks them to pour it on, they dig deep, crossing the finish line with nothing left as they win a silver medal.  (After a fourth-place finish in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Andréanne Morin and Darcy Marquandt were done with rowing, but she tantalized with team news until they signed on again.) Long a legend in the rowing world, Thompson-Willie is the first Canadian to win medals in five different Olympic Games. The London, Ont., high school teacher-librarian works as hard in the gym as her rowers, telling the Toronto Star: “I really don’t think I can sit there in the boat when they’re starting to feel like they can’t go any harder, and tell them to go harder when I haven’t done it myself.”

43. Jutta Treviranus, 55

Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre. A professor in the faculty of design at Toronto’s OCAD University, she dedicates her work to making the Internet and emerging technologies accessible to all, regardless of physical disability. Tools, like voice screen readers and textured-touch pads for the visually impaired or joysticks for those with limited mobility, grow out of the research promoted at IDRC. This past year also saw her co-convene the Designing Enabling Economies and Policies (DEEP) Conference that brought together the world’s most influential digital inclusion thinkers. “In these transformative times, digital inclusion is an urgent global responsibility and an investment with immense social and economic benefits.”

44. Brad Wall, 46

Premier of Saskatchewan. This past July, Canadian premiers voted to keep him as co-chair of the Health Care Innovation Working Group, a collective of health ministers working to improve the innovation and delivery of health services across the country, a role he actually volunteered for. Considering this year marks the 50th anniversary of medicare, Wall and his team picked an appropriate time to re-evaluate how Canadian health care evolves over the next 50 years. “I would hope that every citizen of this country is proud and well served by their health system and that the health system has been transformed and sustained for generations of Canadians.”

45. Dr. Edgar Williams, 68

Chair of CARP’s Avalon, Newfoundland and Labrador, Chapter. Retiring after 40 years in the mathematics department at St. John’s Memorial University in 2005, Williams’ days are busier now than ever. In addition to representing CARP at the national level for more than a decade, Williams works with the Memorial University Pensioners Association, the College and University Retirees Association of Canada, the Naval Officers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Royal St. John’s Regatta. For his commitment and passion, Williams was honoured this year as Volunteer of the Year by the Community Sector Council and with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. “I just don’t know