Eileen Swinton is a tiny, elegant, soft-spoken woman not given
to theatrics or foisting her opinion. Yet, she has quietly achieved
a great deal for the benefit of others and continues to do so.
Back in the '70s when a mention of battered women evoked laughter
in the Canadian Parliament, Eileen spearheaded a much-needed fundraising
campaign for Nellie's, a women's shelter in Toronto. Working with
activist June Callwood, she not only raised funds but also elevated
the mode of operations from bazaars and bake sales to an organized
campaign supported by high profile donors. Members of Nellie's
began to speak to politicians and organizations until a solid
foundation was built for the women's shelter, and awareness rose
for the plight of battered women.
Eileen started her Tibetan artifacts store out of that same compassionate heart.
Somewhere during her twice-annual buying trips to Nepal and India, she grew attached
to the Tibetan culture, Buddhism in particular. Her store became an informal
information center for Buddhists and Buddhist activities in Toronto. That legacy
carries on today, at Snow Lion where the general public gets a wonderful introduction
to the philosophy and culture of Tibet through artifacts, books, and lectures
(now located at 708 Pape Avenue - directly across from Pape Station).
Although Buddhism is the closest religion to her heart, Eileen describes herself as a seeker. She earned her BA and MA in her 50's and her PhD course work at OISE, Toronto. According to Eileen's surrogate daughter, Elizabeth Greaves, Eileen's guidance has been her strong conscience. Eileen feels very fortunate and wants to share all she has with others. Her generosity and spirit has benefited not just people around her, but ripples out to the city and distant places. Eileen, now in her eighties, has since relinquished the management of Snow Lion to new stewards. Yet her Bodhisattva and generous spirit remains undaunted and you can find Eileen every Friday at Snow Lion organizing book orders, greeting customers, and lending her support in any capacity in which she is needed. We are truly fortunate to have this remarkable woman in our midst.