Hilda Louise Thomas, BA’48, MA’65
June 23, 1928 – November 25, 2005. Hilda Thomas is survived by her sister, Kathleen Thode (Bob), children Theresa Ann Thomas, Candida Jane Thomas, aka Mildred Jane Baines, now deceased (July 3, 2009), and Michael Peter Thomas, aka Michael Van Eyes, (Kathy Major), and granddaughter Nicole MacDonald.
Hilda met Phil Thomas at UBC in a class with Professor Sedgewick, renowned for his knowledge and delivery of the works of Shakespeare. They married in 1947 with the goal of creating a family. Settling in Point Grey, they made a lasting impact on the Vancouver scene. In 1957, along with Albert and Jeannie Cox, they co-founded the Vancouver Folk Song Society, spawning the collection of the folk music of BC. A bench commemorating Phil and Hilda is located at Jericho Beach Park, Point Grey.
Hilda, primarily recognized as an ardent socialist and staunch feminist, also made an impact as an anti-war activist, environmentalist, scholar, teacher and musician. A longtime member of the NDP (CCF), Hilda was a founding member of that party’s federal Participation of Women Committee and the BC Women’s Rights Committee (WRC). Of note are Hilda’s involvement with Everywoman’s Health Centre Society, the WRC Task Force on Older Women, the NDP Government’s Task Force on Access to Contraception and Abortion and the Vancouver Health Board’s Women’s Health Advisory Committee.
Academically, Hilda ended her 30-year career with UBC as a senior instructor in the Department of English, inspiring many students to develop a critical eye in analyzing the world around them.
In her passion for a peaceful world, Hilda was chair of the Vietnam Action Committee and actively protested again the Gulf War and Iraqi sanctions as well as on behalf of the Palestinians. On the environmental front, Hilda was a founding member of the Endowment Lands Regional Park Committee, which worked to create Pacific Spirit Park – at which time she stood with the women from the Musqueam Reserve in support of their Treaty Right land title claim. In addition, she was instrumental in the acquisition of the Jericho Beach Park lands and actively supported the preservation of Klayoquot Sound. On campus, she worked to ensure the First Nations Longhouse was constructed.
Hilda’s dedication for change also extended to the penning of political agit-prop songs, such as “The Broken Down Blues” and “Iraq Song”, which she sang with accomplishment.
An NDP tribute reads: “Eminently quotable, Hilda’s voice clips were familiar on radio and television. She frequently left the vanquished in her wake as she, with logic, precision and genuine passion, brought policy to a truly human dimension, clear of purpose and deeply felt.”
Hilda will be remembered as a woman who truly acted with the courage of her convictions. She deeply impacted all who knew her.