With a dental degree from India in his back pocket, Dr. Malwinder S. Dhami moved to Canada in the late 1970’s but struggled to find a job. He made his start behind the counter at 7-11 earning $2.95 an hour. Sadly, like most other educated immigrants, he did not meet the Canadian requirement to practice his profession, but he didn’t let his circumstance stymie his dream. He found kindness on his road of hardship – kindness in the form of a donation towards his tuition to study dentistry at the University of Manitoba. That kindness has morphed into Malwinder’s philosophy of paying it forward.
Malwinder created scholarship endowments for underprivileged post-secondary students where through his own monetary donations, he has helped pay tuition for hundreds of students. Each year, he awards at least 9 endowments ranging from $500-$1,000 each, and for the past ten years has worked through the Fraser Valley Indo Canadian Business Association to create an additional endowments at the Dashmesh Punjabi School in Abbotsford.
He rallies established dentists to join him in helping aspiring dental students and internationally trained dentists with the hopes that they may also feel the fulfillment and reward of giving back. His generosity was recognized by the Indo Canadian Dental Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the University of the Fraser Valley which recently awarded him with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
He is a founding contributor to the University of the Fraser Valley’s Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies.
Birthplace: Baba Bakala, Amritsar, Punjab
Came to Canada: 1977
Highest Level of Education: Dentistry in Patiala in 1976, Dentistry in University of Manitoba in 1986, and awarded Doctor of Letters honourary degree by University of the Fraser Valley in 2018.
Currently Reading: all Punjabi newspapers
Favourite Past-time: golfing! We live in such a beautiful place; I love being surrounded by nature.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a doctor, but when I finished grade 10, it became difficult to follow this path as my family did not have the economic status. I knew I had to work hard to achieve my goals.
Toughest Professional Decision:
Life is how you make it easy, stay in good spirit.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When I was young, I was born into an average family with 3 sisters 4 brothers. I was the one who was always playing khido-khundi (homemade sticks) outside. Studies are important but don’t forget to have fun and spend some time with your friends. Your childhood memories should ones full of happy times.
What does the future look like?
I will keep on adding endowments every year as long as I have the means.