Being named as this year’s honouree of the annual Victoria Hosptial Foundation doctors’ gala leaves Dr. Lalita Malhotra feeling “very humbled,” she told the Daily Herald Monday.
Malhotra and her late husband, Dr. Tilak Malhotra, were named as the 2020 honourees Friday. The annual gala celebrates doctors who have given back to the community either through volunteering or through donations.
“It’s an honour,” Malhotra said. “It’s honouring my husband more than me. He put all his life into pediatrics and the children of the north. I’m touched. It’ll put it that way. It took a little bit of time to (sink) in.”
The Malhotras are the fifth honourees in the event’s history.
According to Victoria Hospital Foundation CEO Sherry Buckler, it was the right time to thank the Malhotras.
“The Malhotras spent their entire lives after arriving in Canada serving the area of the north as a pediatrician and obstetrician team, often travelling and making many sacrifices to deliver babies and care for children,” she said.
“Recently, by making a major donation to the hospital foundation in order to bring in a new (neonatal intensive care unit) for the fragile babies. It was a fitting opportunity to honour them and thank the family for all that they’ve done for the north, especially for mothers and children, over the years.”
Malhotra said, since learning the news, it’s been an “emotional time” for her family.
“It brings a lot of memories back. I’m very touched because he’s being honoured. It’s good for the northern community to know that the person who looked after them for so many years (is being honoured),” she said.
The honouree is chosen by a committee that reviews submissions and suggestions from staff members, Buckler said.
“The event itself is to look back and celebrate their commitment to their community outside of their practice as well as including their practice. that can include whether or not they have gone above and beyond in volunteering, philanthropic support in their community. It doesn’t’ necessarily have to be to the hospital, she said
We have many wonderful physicians who give back to their community in so many ways. the gala is structured to celebrate physicians who do that who give back to their community through time or donations and how they enrich the community we live in outside of their practice.”
It also serves as a fundraiser for the foundation, she said.
“Losung Tilak a couple of years ago, we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all of the years of service by (the Malhotras).
Tilak passed away on July 17, 2017. He served on several boards, including that of the Victoria Hosptial Foundation, as well as the hospital’s medical advisory committee, the regional health board, the Canadian Pediatric Society and the provincial medical association and college of physicians and surgeons. Tilak is a past president of the Saskatchewan Pediatric Society, the Norsask Multicultural Society and has served as chair of various local advisory committees.
Professionally, he is the former chief of pediatrics of the Victoria Hospital and the Holy Family Hospital, a faculty member of the University of Saskatchewan, a visiting pediatric consultant in the province’s north, and ran his P.A. pediatric practice, as well as serving as a provincial consultant for tropical medicine, since 1975.
His work in the community earned Tilak several honours and awards, including the Lt. Gov.’s Centennial Medal, the Canadian Pediatric Society’s provincial pediatrician of the year award, the Pride of India award, the Canadian Medical Association and Saskatchewan Medical Association lifetime achievement award and honorary membership and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.
When Tilak passed, Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said the two Malhotras were part of an inseparable team, and what one accomplished was always with the love and support of the other.
It’s been over half a century since Dr. Lalita Malhotra came to Prince Albert from New Delhi, India. With the nickname ‘The Angel of the North’ from Indigenous elders, she’s made an impact with her unique connections to the community.
Malhotra immigrated to Canada in 1975 with the qualifications to be an obstetrician and a gynecologist. Malhotra has delivered over 10,000 healthy babies in the city across three generations, working a hefty 80 hours a week. Malhotra won Prince Albert’s Citizen of the Year award in 2008, and she continues to give to the community. She’s also a member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal and has received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.
Malhotra thanked those who nominated herself and her husband for the Doctor’s Gala honour.
“I want to thank the people who have done the nomination. I want to thank the foundation for taking care of it and I thank everyone who has been involved in my life and my husband’s life,” she said.
The gala is set for April 18. Tickets go on sale on Jan. 15.
— with files from Jayda Noyes