“Kaur to me is about having courage, confidence, and being someone who wants to make the world a better place by improving the community. Within Sikhism, the daily meditations are about courage, in particular our daily courage to stand up to injustices.
I studied physics during undergrad, a field women do not typically pursue. Now I am a physician and grateful I followed this dream. I finished medical school in 2012 and then moved on to a speciality of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation which was an additional five years of training. I completed grad school during my residency training with a Masters in medical biophysics that focused on rehabilitating elbow injuries. This field allowed me to mesh physics and medicine so that I can improve patient outcomes, something I find rewarding.
For me there is no downside to seeing the potential in people, to motivating them and setting/achieving goals. It is rewarding to use my own experience and encourage them through the rehabilitation process, to help with their function. Plus, I get the ability to focus on and use research, something I find rewarding. I work a lot in teams and with physical therapists. This group approach is effective and gives me the opportunity to collaborate and find solutions for patients that are meaningful.
I was lucky to have grandparents who really influenced my life. They immigrated to Newfoundland in the 1960’s, where there were only four or five other Punjabi families in the province. They would share stories of people who were curious about their physical appearance, especially my grandfather. He would have people asking if he was a genie because of his turban. He didn’t take offence to this questioning, he viewed it as an opportunity to share more about himself, his background, and his beliefs. He was a teacher in Gambo and went by Mr. Singh, he was well known because of his appearance and how he treated people. My grandmother was a teacher in India, but took the opportunity to study and become a nurse in Canada. She had an independent spirit. Both grandparents, imparted the concept of Chardi Kala to me, meaning that someone who is in a positive state of mind.
When my family moved to London, Ontario there was a lot of explaining to people who we are and what our outlook was in life. I think learning kirtan and running Sikh camps was a way for my grandparents to help us to have belonging with our own community. It helped the younger generation to learn from the elders and understand what it was like to make this our world a better place. Within, my household, my dad decided to remove his turban, but my mom and I kept our hair. Thinking about it now, there is too much of an emphasis in Sikh communities on outward appearances rather than how you act. My parents really taught us the concept of integrity, that Sikhism was not just something you did on a Sunday because it happened to be a day set aside for visiting the Gurdwara, but something embedded into the every day. I am inspired by mom because in India, she was an obstetrician and when she arrived in Canada, she had to go through seven years retrainingto become a psychiatrist. Her journey, like my grandparents, guided me to appreciate the importance of setting out on your own path and helping the world in whatever small capacity you can."