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THE SASKATCHEWAN STORY: The Jawahar Kalra family


Dr. Jawahar (Jay) Kalra, an award-winning Saskatchewan heart researcher and committed cultural and community advocate, was born on April 2, 1949 at Aligarh, India, an agricultural trade centre in the province of Uttar Pradesh, almost 120 km from Delhi and only 86 kilometres from India’s famous white marble mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Aligarh, formerly known as Koil, is a charming university town first established as an important fort in 1194. The ruins of the Dor fortress (1524), lie at the city’s centre. Cows, a sacred animal in the Hindu faith, roam free. In a country of about one billion people, Aligarh boasts three million and is famous for the Aligarh Muslim University, established in 1875. It also houses an 18th-century mosque and the tombs of Muslim saints.

Having now lived in Canada for more than three decades while raising two Canadian-born children in the City of Bridges, Jay is happy to find comparisons between his birthplace overseas and his current home of Saskatoon: the agricultural base, the university focus and the diversity of people being the most obvious! After all, home is where your heart is!

Jay loves Saskatchewan so much that he volunteers for diverse cultural and community organizations such as the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, SaskCulture Inc, the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association (SIA), the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Saskatchewan Literacy Foundation and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). He has truly taken the SaskCulture motto “Culture Builds Community” to heart and says that although ethnicity continues to be a source of tension and political conflict around the world it can also be a source of inspiration and diversification. He considers Saskatchewan to be a leader in the development of multicultural harmony. He applauds the Saskatchewan Lotteries system that provides financial assistance to culture, sport and recreation organizations and describes the province as progressive and diverse. He draws personal inspiration for intercultural leadership from the following words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed.

I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.

But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

Jay’s motivation to become a doctor is a heart-wrenching, personal story as much as a stroke of genius.

Jay is the third youngest of 11 children of Shri Amar Nath Kalra and Shrimati Shiv Devi Kalra. Raised in a Hindu family speaking the Hindi and Punjabi languages at home, Jay became fluent in English at an early age through the public school system. His family owned a sporting goods business, which is still under the name “Jawahar Sports Co.” The company sells cricket, badminton, soccer, field hockey and other sports equipment and manufactures some sports items, supplying colleges and universities all over the province of Uttar Pradesh. The store is still located in the main market area of Aligarh with branches for manufacturing in other areas of the province. Jay’s father, Amar Nath Kalra, established the business after the partition of India in 1947. Previous to this development, Amar lived in the area that became Pakistan. Most of his relatives moved to Delhi when Pakistan was formed but Amar liked the looks of Aligarh as he travelled through India by train and decided to make the city his home. Raised by his maternal uncle because his father had passed away when he was four, Amar joined the family sporting goods team and achieved his business goals. Three of Jay’s brothers now carry on the legacy, supplying sporting goods to various colleges, universities and companies through stores in Meerut and Aligarh. Jay grew up in a family that prioritized learning, family values, athletic achievement and charity. Eight of his 10 siblings have university education. Jay’s father was a known philanthropist and was dedicated to worthy causes and this tradition is continued by Jay in Saskatchewan with his donation of vast amounts of volunteer time.

Jay has fond memories of his childhood. He remembers playing marbles, snakes and ladders, cards, carrom board (similar to backgammon) and Gulli danda (akin to cricket/baseball) with neighborhood friends. He grew up in a spacious brick home with two verandas, an open courtyard and garden. As a teenager, Jay attended several youth summer camps at the Nainital hill station, a beautiful park similar to Banff, Alta. He loved “Bal Biradri,” a community program for local youth. Bal Biradri means “young friendship” in Hindi. Jay represented the Bal Biradri of Aligarh in an under five- feet cricket team and was involved in many other sports. Jay has always been a team player, excelling in badminton and cricket. He enjoyed being a cadet with the National Cadet Corps and Scouts as a youth. He finished high school in Aligarh and then attended the Aligarh Muslim University to complete his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biology in 1967, followed by his M. Sc. in Biochemistry in 1969. Jay follows the Hindu faith but appreciates and accepts the diversity of spirituality and enjoyed his learning experiences at the renowned Muslim university, which is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds. Jay was a university medallist, achieving top marks for academic excellence in Masters Program. In 1969-70, Jay joined New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, one of the most prestigious and well-known medical and health care institutes as a PhD student in Biochemistry. During this time, he received a junior research fellowship from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck the Kalra family when Jay’s dad, Amar, had a fatal heart attack in March 1970 while Jay was a student. But Jay dealt with the loss by deciding to help others with heart conditions. He was determined to become a doctor and try to learn the reasons for heart attack and heart failure in order to help others reduce risks and to develop educational and preventative measures. He came to understand the value of life and living every moment to its fullest. With that in mind, Jay decided to further his studies abroad. He had read and heard that Canada was a country to explore and was accepted as a post-graduate student to the Memorial University of Newfoundland, landing in Gander in the winter of 1971. He was 21 years old, the first member of his family to move abroad. Jay didn’t know anyone in Canada and about 10 days after his arrival, a blizzard hit the city of St. John’s. An emergency was called, services were halted and Jay wondered what he had gotten himself into. After a few seconds of panic, he decided to accept the diversity of weather with the confidence that his decision to move to Canada was still a good one.

Jay was very active in university life. He became the social secretary, vice president then president of the senior men’s residence, initiating international cuisine dinners featuring food from 25-30 countries of the students. Prominent members of the St. John’s community as well as university faculty and senior administrative officers were invited to attend these dinners and meet the students. He also organized other cultural and fundraising activities for worthy causes such as the wheelchair sports association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Jay’s experiences in Newfoundland were enriching, affording him the opportunity to meet people of many backgrounds and countries of origin, an experience that has become a life-long passion. Jay became deeply committed to sharing, learning from others and encouraging others to embrace the concept of unity in diversity. He developed a personal motto: In Service for Community.

While earning a Master of Science degree in 1972, a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in 1976, a Bachelor of Medical sciences degree in 1979 and a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981, Jay assumed a leadership role among the Memorial University student population, organizing events to promote camaraderie. Jay, as coordinator of student activities, organized many weekend dances for students and brought various big name bands in music to Memorial such as Jose Feliciano, Roy Buchanan and Hollin Wolf. He was the captain of university Indian student’s cricket team and was an excellent batsman. He organized friendly cricket games among students and faculty from England, the West Indies and India. Jay values sports because they promote teambuilding, keeping people active and healthy and providing opportunities for people to excel and assume leadership. He continually coaches others to play as long as they are enjoying the game and not overly concerned with winning or losing.

While a student in medical school, Jay was the first Canadian to win a student research award at the Eastern student research forum in Miami, Florida for his groundbreaking research on the metabolites of the cardiac drug digoxin. Subsequently, Jay started a student research day for students to share their research findings at the Memorial University medical school, which has now become an integral part of that institute. Jay was also a proctor to one of the residences at the Paton College (Rothermere House) of Memorial University, where he served as a counsellor for university students.

After finishing his MD, Jay moved to Ottawa to do his residency training to receive certification in Medical Biochemistry from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He also taught an advanced cardiac life support course at the University of Ottawa and was the senior resident in the Departments of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine at the Ottawa Civic and Ottawa General Hospitals.

In 1985, Jay was offered a position with the Department of Pathology, University of Saskatchewan and at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, then called University Hospital. Interviewing at the university for the position in spring, Jay thought the campus was beautiful and that the hospital was of a high standard. He found the job ideal, offering him the opportunity to teach, pursue research as well as scholarly activities and provide clinical diagnostic services to patients. He accepted the position and began working in Saskatoon in September 1985, living in a downtown apartment within a walking distance from University Hospital and with a beautiful view of the Saskatchewan River.

After establishing his new life in Saskatoon, Jay returned to Ontario to marry Kamla Katyal, who had moved to Hamilton from New Delhi, India in 1976 after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. Jay met Kamla at a social event in Toronto in 1985. Jay and Kamla started a new life in the prairie province of Saskatchewan after being married in Toronto in April 1986 with about 200- 250 relatives and friends in attendance. The three-hour Hindu ceremony was performed by a Pundit in the evening under a canopy known as a mandap. Kamla wore a traditional red sari and Jay wore a suit. As with Hindu tradition, the bride and groom were barefoot at the mandap as were those gathered around the raised platform. During the exchange of vows, the bride and groom sat facing each other in front of a sacred fire amidst the chanting of slokas and prayers. The bride and groom exchanged garlands and rings as the pundit explained that their lives were being joined in an unbroken circle and used coloured cloth to join them together in matrimony. As per tradition, the bride and groom were given samigri and rice by the Pundit and by the bride’s family. They poured the samigri into the fire, which they then walked around seven times, alternating leaders in prayers for happiness, long lives and health. Seven steps and seven vows confirmed the marriage and the bridegroom presented his bride the mangalsutra necklace, completing the ceremony. The couple then fed each other sweets and were presented with gifts from the family and friends. Following this traditional ceremony, Jay and Kamla were married by a Justice of the Peace in order to obtain a Canadian marriage certificate. While they didn’t object to the dual ceremony, Jay and Kamla are happy that now many Hindu priests in Canada are marriage commissioners so that Hindu marriage ceremonies are legally recognized. It is an example of the progression of Canadian values of multiculturalism and diversity.

After the wedding, Kamla moved to Saskatoon and worked at different businesses such as Canada Post and Co-op Trust Co. of Canada until the birth of her first child, Neil Amar Kalra, in May 1990. The Kalras then welcomed a daughter, Natasha Rani Kalra, in August 1991, completing their family. Both children were born in Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon. The children became the top priority for Jay and Kamla, who felt that Saskatoon was the ideal place to raise the children because of the city’s friendly people, lovely scenery and ease of transportation and access. Jay and Kamla feel Saskatchewan has allowed them to enjoy a fabulous quality of life with an emphasis on community involvement and volunteerism.

Dr. Kalra and family, Christmas Spirits Jay, Kamla, Neil and Natasha celebrating Christmas, 1994

Dr. Kalra and family, Christmas Spirits
Jay, Kamla, Neil and Natasha celebrating Christmas, 1994

For about 10 years, the Kalras lived on the east end of Saskatoon on Coldspring Crescent, with the children embracing Saskatchewan winters by enjoying tobogganing and snow shoveling. Kamla volunteered to help at the children’s pre-school and then enrolled them in a variety of extra-curricular activities once they began grade school. Soccer, tennis, swimming and music became favorites of the children, who have now completed all Aqua Quest levels and are preparing to become lifeguards. Neil has now refereed about 100 soccer games and enjoys watching his father play the occasional game of cricket. Neil and Natasha have danced Bhangra and modern Indian folk dances and have participated in fashion shows at the India pavilion during Saskatoon Folkfest as well as at wedding receptions of family friends.

Neil and Natasha have participated in the Lakeridge School choir, band, school safety patrol team, school science fair and national geography challenge. They were chosen as ambassadors for the open house for the construction fair at Lakeridge School in 2002. They also attended science fiction, technology, and drama summer camps at the University of Saskatchewan, attended the rotary youth leadership awards camp, and participated in a fundraiser production of the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

Neil and Natasha donate time during their summer holidays to the Saskatoon Public Library’s Ready Set Read program, helping little children read and playing games with them. Neil has volunteered at the Friendship Inn, helping distribute food to impoverished people. He has participated in Hindu Society of Saskatchewan temple activities and wrote the “Story of Lord Rama” for the temple children’s book published in March of 1999. In 1996, when Neil was only six years old, he won the second prize in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix Christmas story writing contest. “Santa Visits the Whole World” reflects Neil’s caring personality and interest in children of all nations. He enjoys singing, acting, and dancing and has participated in Lakeridge School’s Student Leadership Council for the last two years.

Kamla is a dedicated wife and mother. She also volunteers for various organizations including Jeux Canada Games, Saskatchewan Northern International Children Festival, Canada Custom and Revenue Agency, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Lakeridge School and Saskatoon Folkfest, where she served as ambassador for the India pavilion during this cultural celebration.

Saskatoon Folkfest-Preview Night Celebration Dr. Kalra as President of Saskatoon Folkfest Inc- Installation of Pavilion Ambassadors, 1998

Saskatoon Folkfest-Preview Night Celebration
Dr. Kalra as President of Saskatoon Folkfest Inc- Installation of Pavilion Ambassadors, 1998

The charitable spirit was passed down to the children at an early age. When they were in pre-school and kindergarten, Neil and Natasha decided to save their pocket money for two years to donate it to the University First and Best National Campaign, challenging their parents to match the donation. In an interview for a local cable television show “Talk of the Town” in 1996, they said they wanted to attend the University of Saskatchewan when they were old enough. Neil, age 5, hoped for a career in aviation or medicine and Natasha, age 4, wanted to be a doctor like her dad. “We were both born in Saskatoon and we are proud to live here,” five-year-old Neil said in an interview with the College of Medicine and Alumni Review in March 1996. Now that they are teenagers, both Neil and Natasha still want to attend the University of Saskatchewan and seek careers in the prairie province.

The family maintains many traditions of Hinduism, celebrating Holi, the spring festival of colours, and Diwali, the fall festival of lights celebrating the victory of good over evil. But the Kalras have also adopted celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. They enjoy decorating a beautiful Christmas tree every December and sharing the gift giving and goodwill of the holiday season.

The Kalras have a temple in the basement of their current home in the Lakeridge area of Saskatoon, a quiet place for daily reflection and prayers. Every morning after their showers, Jay and Kamla visit the temple to pray to the Goddess Vaishno Maata, reciting devotional songs known as bhajans and presenting the prashad, an offering of food. Jay praises the Goddess and seeks for strength and wisdom to show him the path to do the right thing and do the best he can for all of humanity. Jay has placed other spiritual items in the temple area, diverse Christian and other religion treasures from various places of worship he has visited in Canada, Italy, India, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. These religious items signify the family’s holistic understanding of worship.

Neil and Natasha have been raised to respect the faith and culture of their parents as well as others. In the family temple, they sometimes play traditional instruments such as tabla drums and a hand-pumped harmonium organ. They understand many spoken Hindi and Punjabi words and enjoy eating curried chicken, matar paneer (cheese and peas), nan and puri (baked and fried breads) as much as perogies, pizza, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Jay brings his children traditional clothing from India whenever he returns to his home country. Natasha and Kamla enjoy wearing their traditional outfits, bangles and bindis for special occasions, preferring casual western dress for daily life.

While raising his family with Kamla, Jay has worked diligently and with great dedication for the department of pathology, University of Saskatchewan. He was appointed Assistant Professor (1985-1988), and moved up to the rank of Associate Professor (1988-1991), and Professor (1991-present). Jay has served as Head of the Department of Pathology at the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan (1991-2000), Director of Pathology Laboratories, Royal University Hospital (1991-2000) and Chief of the Department of Laboratory Medicine for the Saskatoon District Health (1994-2000). He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Academic Medicine. He is also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, the American College of Angiology, the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry and elected fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Dr. Kalra- Academic Leadership Dr. Kalra-President, Association of Chairs of Pathology and Lab Medicine in Canadian Medical School, 2000

Dr. Kalra- Academic Leadership
Dr. Kalra-President, Association of Chairs of Pathology and Lab Medicine in Canadian Medical School, 2000

Jay is a member of various National and International Societies. He has been active within the Royal College serving on a number of committees related to pathology and lab medicine practice and postgraduate education. He has served as the President of the Canadian Association of Medical Biochemists (1993-95), President of Intersociety Council of Laboratory Medicine of Canada (1994-96), President of Canadian Chairs of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (1996-2000), President of Canadian Association of Pathologists (1999-2000). Jay was a Councilor of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation (1995-2001) and has chaired its by-laws committee. He has been the founding member (1991) and later the Director of Saskatchewan Stroke Research Centre (1998-2000). He has been the President of the Saskatchewan Association of University Teachers (1987-88), President of the Saskatchewan Society of Clinical Chemists (1989-91; 2003-), a member of the Committee of the Saskatchewan Health Service Utilization and Research Commission for Creating Guidelines of Thyroid Function Testing (1992-93), a member of the Provincial Laboratory Services Consultation Committee (1993-96), a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan and a member of the Saskatchewan Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. He also serves as a member of the Editorial Board of two scientific Journals.

Jay’s major research work is in the area of applied biochemistry related to oxygen-free radicals in clinical diseases. He is an active researcher with interests in pathogenesis of heart failure, oxidative stress and antioxidants. In addition, Jay has been a pioneer in the area of thyroid-function testing, and laboratory guidelines/utilization in health care. Over the last several years, he has also developed an active interest in patient safety and quality care issues in health care. He has over two hundred research communications to his credit.

Jay remembers working long hours for many years, preparing slide presentations at home on the kitchen table with his children on weekends, including one slide of Neil and Natasha in many academic presentations. For relaxation, Jay enjoys cooking and volunteering. He has fond memories of pretending to be a waiter and taking food orders from his children for weekend brunches, a huge difference from his childhood in India. His family had servants to cook and clean in Aligarh, but he preferred his mother’s cooking. He continues to enjoy the Canadian lifestyle and his family’s co-operative approach to house and yard work. His professional approach also demonstrates the value of working together for common goals.

Shortly after his appointment at University of Saskatchewan in 1985, Jay was instrumental in setting up a postgraduate (M.Sc./ Ph.D.) educational program in Pathology. He has supervised and trained several graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows. Jay teaches undergraduate medical and dental students and enjoys advising high school students in career choices. In many cases, the teaching programs are related to the intricacies of clinical chemistry and the appropriate use of laboratory tests and utilization based on clinical guidelines and evidence based medicine. For the last five years he has offered Advances in Technology in Pathology/Lab Medicine as part of “Rotary Adventures in Technology Program” for the youth of western Canada. He has received Certificates of Appreciation from high schools in Saskatoon for his involvement in educating youth. Jay has also given public lectures on the role of the laboratory physician and pathologist in health care for “University to the People”. He has lectured widely and held numerous visiting professorships in Canada and abroad.

In his capacity as Director and Clinical Chief of Pathology/Laboratory Medicine at three major hospitals in the Saskatoon health region, Jay has promoted the appropriate and cost-effective utilization of clinical lab services in addition to the educational and research mandate. In 1986, Jay organized the first departmental research day with professional staff as well as residents, graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows. This has become an annual event.

But Jay’s heart belongs to community service as much as to academia. He has served as the President (1998, 1999) and Vice-President (1997) of Saskatoon Folkfest Inc., an organization that showcases a multicultural festival annually in the city of Saskatoon. He was the chair of the planning committee when Saskatoon Folkfest celebrated “20 Years of Culture and Harmony” in 1999. This remains one of Jay’s treasured memories as it marked the marriage of Folkfest to the Canada Remembers Air show, his son’s favourite event. By combining both celebrations on one weekend, attendance increased dramatically. In a television interview at the time, Jay described the union of events as a winning combination and saluted the veterans. “We will bring you close to the wonders of the world that beacon all of us to discover,” Jay said in a local television station interview. “All veterans and residents will be proud.”

Jay has been a volunteer with the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association for many years and a board member since 2000, serving as treasurer. He promotes intercultural understanding and advocates for cultural and linguistic integrity. He was the vice president of the Hindu Society of Saskatchewan and was the chair, board of trustees, Hindu Society of Saskatchewan (1997-1998). He has served on the Board of Directors (1993-2000) and as an executive member (1995-1998) of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan. He has also participated as a Word Whiz Committee member in a fund raising event held in Centennial Hall in 1996, 1997 and 1998 for the Saskatchewan Literacy Foundation. Jay has also served on various committees of the India Canada Cultural Association, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana. In addition, Jay has served as Vice-president of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (2002-04) and is currently President of this non-profit organization.

Jay inspires others by encouraging friendships, cultural expression and individuality while raising awareness and promoting the values of cultural diversity. He has demonstrated an outstanding commitment and leadership to volunteerism in the community at large by amplifying his services to promote understanding and celebrate cultural diversity and multiculturalism. He has been a role model who leads by example and has often been called a true “Cultural Ambassador.” He has shown a strong commitment to the community and believes in the motto of “service above self.

Jay is a Rotarian and has served as a member of Saskatoon Nutana Rotary Club committees including Membership Development and World Community Service. Jay served as President of the Saskatoon Nutana Rotary Club (2001-2002). He was the chair of the committee to celebrate 40 years of the service of the Saskatoon Nutana Rotary Club (2001). At present, he serves as co-chair of the Rotary in Saskatoon, 2005 Celebration Committee to celebrate “100 Years of Rotary International and Province of Saskatchewan” in Saskatoon. In addition, he has been an active member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Equity Issues Advisory Committee and has served on their Task Force on Equity Issues. He has also served on several committees of the College of Medicine and University of Saskatchewan including chair, 90th Saskatchewan Anniversary Conference Planning Committee (1995-96) and has been a member of the University Council (1999-2001). He served as a member of the Medical Advisory Committee (1994-2000) and a member of the executive of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Saskatoon District Health Board (1994-96). He was a member of the Clinical Review Panel for redesigning medical services to the Saskatoon District Health Board (1992-94). He has also served as a member of the Council on Health Policy and Economics of the Canadian Medical Association (2001-2003) and a member of the Legislative Committee of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (1995-2000).

Jay has been a member of the Board of Directors (1998-2001) of The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Saskatchewan Division). He has been the Chair of Vision 2000 Luncheon committee and coordinator of the Board Planning Session (April, 2000). He has served as vice chair (2001-03) and is now chair of The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Saskatchewan Division). He has also served as a member of National Board of Directors and its planning committee of The Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Dr. Kalra, Chair Fundraising Visions lunch, CNIB Dr. Kalra chair, Visions 2000 Luncheon Committee, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Saskatchewan Division)-fundraising with Mr. Gord Paynter, 2000

Dr. Kalra, Chair Fundraising Visions lunch, CNIB
Dr. Kalra chair, Visions 2000 Luncheon Committee, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Saskatchewan Division)-fundraising with Mr. Gord Paynter, 2000

Jay is the recipient of many awards and honors including the University Medal in 1969 from Aligarh University and a Summer Studentship Award from the Faculty of Medicine of Memorial University in 1978. In 1979 he received the Excellence of Research Award from the Eastern Student Research Forum (Miami, Florida), the Burrough-Wellcome Scholarship and the Lange Medical Publication Book Series Award. He received the Merck, Sharp and Dohme Award in Therapeutics in 1980, the Schering Travelling Award from the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation in 1988, and several scientific awards for best Research Poster presentations. In 1994, he received the Excellence of Research Award from the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists and the Golden Wheel Award for Excellence in Science & Technology from the Rotary Clubs of Saskatoon. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Services to the Community Award from the India Canada Cultural Association Saskatoon (1995) and the Outstanding Speaker Award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (1996).

In 2002, Jay was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal. The medal is awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to Canada, to their community or to their fellow Canadians. Jay has also been recognized for his contributions to education, research and medicine by his citation in the International Who’s Who in Medicine, International Who’s Who of Intellectuals, and by receiving the Man of the Year Award from the American Biographical Institute for his outstanding community and professional achievements.

Dr. Kalra receiving Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal Hon. Dr. Lynda Haverstock, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan presenting Dr. Jawahar Kalra with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal, 2002

Dr. Kalra receiving Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
Hon. Dr. Lynda Haverstock, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan presenting Dr. Jawahar Kalra with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal, 2002

Jay has served on the SaskCulture Multicultural Initiatives Fund committee and was awarded the 2003 Volunteer Award for Culture by SaskCulture. Recipients are chosen for their exceptional commitment and dedication to supporting and developing culture in this province. In a video prepared by SaskCulture for the awards presentation, Jay said volunteering is an integral part of his life. “At the core is respect and dignity for all,” he said. “We must continue to do that to enhance our community and society as a whole.” Jay said he doesn’t mind giving up his free time when he sees he can contribute to his community and society to make it a better place. “We must take time to teach our children the values of culture, heritage and volunteering and bringing all together so that we can all live in harmony,” he said.

In 2003 Volunteer Saskatoon recognized these contributions and honored Jay with an award for his gift of time, talent and energy in the category of Cultural Diversity. In 2004, the City of Saskatoon’s Cultural Diversity and Race Relations Committee presented Jay with a Living in Harmony award. Part of the award was a drawing by a Saskatoon student featuring musical notes wrapping around a multi coloured person. The artist says racism is the wrong note in life’s harmony and calls on people to stop racism. Jay feels this captures beautifully the concept that cultural organizations have been trying to achieve with regard to living in harmony. He accepts awards on behalf of the organizations he represents with the hope that public recognition will generate more support for important anti-racism initiatives.

In June 2004, Jay was elected president of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan. His goal is to take multiculturalism to a new level, promoting diversity in sport, youth initiatives and corporate and community partnerships. “Jay firmly believes in the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s core values including cross cultural and youth development, anti-racism education, the promotion of human rights and the support of community diversity initiatives,” said Wade Luzny, general manager of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan in the Multiculturalism Matters newsletter. “Jay moves this mission forward and brings an incredible knowledge, diversity of talent and caring, committed attitude to the many community and cultural groups he is involved in.”

The ultimate goal of all of the Kalras is to do good works that will benefit everyone and promote the concept of living in harmony and working as a team. This reflects the Saskatchewan Motto: From Many People’s Strength. Jay has received many job offers from around the world but has decided to stay in Saskatoon, a city his family has come to love and call home. The Kalras have become an important part of the Saskatchewan community and believe that since Saskatchewan is their home, they will continue to build the strong community and provide service to advance the goals of health, equality, justice, harmony and happiness.