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Memorable Manitobans: Irene Oleinikov Walsh (1918-2002)

Community activist.

Born at Lugansk, Russia on 6 June 1918 to Vassily and Emily Oleinikov, she was six months old when the family escaped from Communist Russia and went to live in Belgrade. She studied at Belgrade’s Russian school and received a Bachelor of Arts degree. She studied French in Paris, English in London and learned Russian, Serbian (Yugoslav), German and Italian, as well as studying Russian history, literature and music. During the Second World War, she lived in Belgrade and earned her living by broadcasting news on the radio. At the end of the war the family was interned in a camp in Trieste, where she became an interpreter for the British High Command.

In January 1953, the family immigrated to Canada and moved to Winnipeg. She was involved in the Winnipeg Jewish community as the first female assistant director in the Winnipeg State of Israel Bond Organization, a co-founder of the Winnipeg Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, she helped set-up scholarships in Ben-Gurion University to assist needy Russia students wishing to attend the university in Israel, was a participant in the Voice of Israel radio program which urged Russian Jews in Moscow to immigrate to Israel and was the official translator and interpreter for the Nobel Prize winner Andre Sukharov when he visited Winnipeg. She was also a director on the board at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation and a board member for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

She died at Winnipeg on 30 July 2002 and burial took place at the Bnay Abraham Cemetery.

Wife of Harry Walsh.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 1 August 2002.

“They will never be forgotten” by Kevin Rollason, Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2002, page A8.

This page was prepared by Ian Stewart.

Page revised: 19 January 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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