Countless Journeys, S2E5: Community Builders
Meet two women who have devoted their lives to helping others help themselves.
Dr. Lalita Malhotra is an obstetrician and gynaecologist who has lived in Prince Albert Saskatchewan since she and her husband arrived there in 1975. Originally from Delhi, India, Dr. Malhotra has, incredibly, delivered more than 10,000 babies in her community, earning herself the nickname Angel of the North from the Indigenous communities she serves.
Dr. Malhotra is one of those people who seems capable of anything and everything. In our conversation, she talks about the importance of fostering deep ties within communities, mentoring youth, and really listening to patients to better understand the issues they are dealing with. She checks up on the people in her community, calling them now and then to see how they are doing. She even called me a couple of months after our conversation to see how I was doing!
Marcie Ponte has been a leading organizer and activist in Toronto. She helps immigrant women and their families access services, and advocates for better labour conditions within the immigrant-heavy cleaning services sector in Toronto. Originally from Portugal, Marcie bucked tradition and moved out of her family’s suburban home in Leaside as a single 19-year-old, and moved to the vibrant urban neighbourhood of Kensington Market, home to generations of Portuguese-Canadians.
“I wasn’t ready to go off and just get married and have babies. I wanted to live my life. I wanted to experience things. I wanted to do different kinds of work and within the sector. So it was a great experience for me and it really shaped who I am today.”
It’s there that she began her community activism, and today, more than forty years later, she is the executive director of the Working Women’s Community Centre, which provides support and programming to help immigrant women succeed.