• Fraser Taylor speaking at an RCGS function. (Photo: David Trattles)

A Royal Canadian Geographical Society award winner was one of five Canadians honoured with a top science prize.

Fraser Taylor, a distinguished research professor in geography and environmental studies, was one of this year’s prestigious Killam Prize winners.

“I was deeply honoured by the prize,” Taylor says. “It’s probably one of the highest, if not the highest awards, in the fields concerned.”

The $100,000 Killam Prize is presented by the Canadian Council for the Arts and awarded annually to scientists who have consistently pushed the boundaries of understanding the world. The prizes are awarded for research in one of five fields: engineering, health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences or humanities.

Taylor won the social science award for his pioneering work in cybercartography, which combines information about local cultures with multimedia to create new and interesting maps. This work was also recognized by the RCGS in 2012 when Taylor was awarded the 3M Environmental Innovation Award.

Among the other Killam Prize winners is James Miller, a University of Saskatchewan history professor, who won the humanities award for his work examining the history of aboriginal peoples and their relations with people who have immigrated to Canada.

When he heard he won the award, Miller's initial reaction was stunned disbelief. “I was very pleased for myself of course, but also because I interpret the award as recognition for the native-newcomer field, which is a comparatively recent field.”

Miller describes his research as trying to answer one question: why don’t Canada’s aboriginals and non-aboriginals get along?

“The simple version is that when we cease to have a good economic reason for cooperating, that’s when the trouble begins,” he says. But he adds that the relationship may be improving. He says that because many of Canada’s energy and mineral resources are on aboriginal peoples’ lands, there has to be cooperation on resource development.

This year’s other winners are Sajeev John, Andreas Mandelis and Francis Plummer.