story - rupinder toor


Bow Valley College donor wins award

Service to the community honours doctor’s parents.

Winner of the Immigrants of Distinction Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Dr. Rupinder Toor, grew up in an immigrant household where active community service had equal footing with working hard to create a better life in a new country. That upbringing has left its mark on her and informs her life today as a successful medical doctor, women’s advocate, mother of two, and donor to Bow Valley College students. The College nominated Rupinder for the annual awards, presented by Immigrant Services Calgary, on March 9, 2018.

“The best way for me to recognize the efforts of my parents to make our community a better place is to be a contributing member of society myself,” she says. 

Starting in medical school, Rupinder has been a pioneer in establishing women’s health as an area of focus within the scope of family medicine, and shares her passion in these areas with students, health care professionals, and her community.

Ten years ago, she established a not-for-profit clinic to address the language, cultural, and gender barriers experienced by immigrant and other women. Because of demand, she followed that by opening an IUD clinic. Since opening, the Northeast Calgary Women’s Clinic and the IUD Clinic have served almost 50,000 women. She has also spearheaded Punjabi Community Health Services Calgary, which serves South Asian families struggling with social issues, such as addictions. Once again, Rupinder has addressed language, cultural, and accessibility challenges facing these families.

In 2009, Rupinder established a student award at Bow Valley College for recent immigrants to Canada, men and women, who may face barriers to transitioning into the workforce, and who look to education as a way to achieve their goals. It was a way to honour her father, who passed away in 2002, and his passion for community service, while recognizing the challenges and struggles a new Canadian faces while trying to raise a family in a new country. Rupinder also makes a point of meeting each recipient to hear their stories and provide mentorship if needed. 

“The students’ stories are very meaningful,” she says. She hopes her passion inspires others to connect with whatever they may feel drawn to in their own lives. 

She dons her doctor’s role when she volunteers in the Practical Nursing department at the College where she speaks to the learners about women’s health. She recognizes that women’s access to planned parenthood greatly improves their ability to get an education and lead fulfilling lives.

“We need to invest in women,” she says, adding “educating women is the key to helping families and communities thrive.”

Rupinder has been the recipient of many awards, but says the Immigrants of Distinction Award is special to her — as her parents’ sacrifices, which have given her the opportunity to give back to the community — are being recognized.

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Posted on March 12, 2018 

Story by Anne Georg

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