Helen Kerfoot was already presented with a diploma for outstanding services to ICA as member of the LOC that organised the 1999 International Cartographic Conference in Ottawa. She has played a more important role for cartographers worldwide however as chairperson of the UNGEGN standing advisory commission of the ECOSOC, UN.
After an MSc in Geology in Britain she took up a job as geologist in Northern Canada, where she became interested in toponymy and did toponymic fieldwork. Later she went to work for the Govt. Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in Ottawa. She is a past president of the Canadian Society of the Study of Names, which she presided over from 1997-2003. She was delegated by the Canadian Government to the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names around 1987, and was elected as chairperson in 2002.
Since then she has succeeded in turning UNGEGN into a more professional body and in bringing its work in line with current SDI-initiatives. She is one of the few experts with hands-on experience in practically all fields of toponymic standardization. Her drive to attend all the meetings of UNGEGN working groups, her participation in toponymy courses world wide, in scientific seminars and technical meetings as well as her endeavours to make all UNGEGN ‘jurisprudence’ on geographical names accessible through its website have benefited the whole spatial information community, as geographical names standardisation is a most important aspect in the exchange and linking of geospatial data.
For her services and contribution to cartography Helen Kerfoot is awarded an Honorary Fellowship of ICA.