Eileen Tallman Sufrin
Born Blanche Eileen Tallman in Montreal, Quebec (1913-1999). She was raised in Toronto where her father worked as a travelling salesman. After graduating head of her class from Vaughan Road Collegiate, she eschewed university, instead joining other unemployed activists in the Co-operative Commonwealth Youth Movement. When her father died in 1938, her mother took an underpaid job at Eaton’s to raise her three children. That experience would inform her organizing effort on behalf of Eaton workers (1948-1952), one of the longest organizing campaigns in Canadian labour history. Eileen spent 19 years organizing women in union movements in Ontario and BC, unionizing 15,000 women. She met her husband, Bernard “Bert” Sufrin (1916-1995) while working at the Saskatchewan government finance office. Bert was an economist and fellow CCF worker. They moved to Ottawa in 1964 where Bert worked for the Labour Department of the Women’s Bureau. They retired to White Rock, BC, by 1972, where she was active in the NDP and founded a local branch of the Choice of Dying Society. Eileen received many honours over her lifetime including a Governor-General’s medal on the 50th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.