A prominent Prince Albert physician has received national recognition for her humanitarian work.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Dr. Lalita Malhotra of Prince Albert has been named the 2013 Midweek South Asian Humanitarian of the Year for her extensive community work. The doctor will travel to Toronto this weekend to accept her award in person.
Y Media, a media and public relations firm that owns multiple publications targeting a South Asian audience (including the weekly English newspaper Midweek), has named Dr. Lalita Malhotra its 2013 Midweek South Asian Humanitarian of the Year.
The award honours individuals from Canada’s South Asian community who have demonstrated considerable achievements in their own professions as well as the wider community.
“It’s always a good surprise and you always feel very honoured when other people want to recognize you,” Malhotra said.
The doctor will travel to Toronto this weekend to accept her award in person at the Sixth Annual Midweek South Asian Awards.
A past Midweek South Asian award recipient, Dr. Aditya Jha, originally nominated Malhotra for the humanitarian honour, forwarding her resume to the organizers.
“We looked at the profile and it was quite impressive,” group editor and CEO Yudhvir Jaswal said.
“We saw that she’s done a lot of community work. One of the things is that … we wanted to encourage the females in our community that yes, you can also be a very good professional and at the same time serve the community.”
Since moving to Prince Albert 37 years ago, Malhotra has had an indelible impact on health care in northern Saskatchewan, particularly for women and aboriginal residents.
Aside from establishing the Women’s Wellness Centre within the city, she has conducted extensive work on the prevalence of diabetes in northern communities among the indigenous population.
Over the years, Malhotra has received a plethora of honours at the local, provincial and national levels. She earned the Saskatchewan Order of Merit award in 2001 and was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006, as well as Prince Albert’s Citizen of the Year in 2007.
Now she has added another distinction to that lengthy list, as Malhotra becomes the first Saskatchewan recipient of a Midweek South Asian Award -- a point that Jaswal noted extends beyond mere trivia.
It’s always a good surprise and you always feel very honoured when other people want to recognize you. Dr. Lalita Malhotra
“Most of us (in the South Asian community), we come and settle here in GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and it’s not very difficult to settle here,” Jaswal said.
“Yes, it is difficult to make a name for yourself, but then either we settle here in GTA or we settle in Vancouver or Calgary. Most of the profiles are only from these regions.”
“But to settle in other areas other than these three that I’ve mentioned -- and then to create a name for yourself, serve the community -- I think it does take a lot of courage and effort to do that.”
Malhotra cited many of the same reasons when recalling her initial surprise over receiving the award.
“I was actually shocked in a way, because normally they always have people from Toronto or Quebec or Montreal or something,” she said. “Nobody looks at Saskatchewan.”
Yet it is Malhotra’s own high profile that continues to draw national attention to Prince Albert. Gov. Gen. David Johnston’s October visit to award her the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is only the most recent example.
Despite ongoing work on a pap smear program for cervical cancer that has taken Malhotra as far as the outskirts of New Delhi, the doctor appears set to remain a bulwark of the P.A. community for many years to come.
“People are so warm here, so I never wanted to move,” Malhotra said.
“A lot of people have said, ‘Why don’t you move? Why don’t you go to Saskatoon, go to Toronto, go to Vancouver?’ But you have to see the people be so warm to you that you just want to stay here.”