Dr. Asha Seth named one of Canadian Immigrant Magazine's Top 25 Canadian Immigrants
By Michelle Tadique
June 30, 2010

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Generous personal contributions, proactive fundraising and the establishment of a Foundation that strives to disseminate the latest in medical education and humanitarian activities define Dr. Asha Seth as a "Physician-Philanthropist".

Because of her commitment to turning her professional success into ways of giving back to the community, she has been named one of Canadian Immigrant Magazine's Top 25 Canadian Immigrants.

Originally born and raised in India, Dr. Seth knew at a very young age that medicine would be her life's path, caring for those who need it most. "My job and my mandate (in caring for people) go beyond my office doors," she said.

Dr. Asha Seth has been a physician at St. Joseph's since 1976. She has been able to touch the lives of many people, by bringing thousands of babies into the world as a family doctor specializing in obstetrics, but also as a philanthropic leader.

"When I found out (I won), I was happy," explained Dr. Seth. "Not about winning, but about the fact that the hard work and contributions of immigrants are recognized and that people understand and want to praise the importance of giving. Praise always has a positive impact, and makes you want to work even harder at what you do."

Dr. Seth is founder of the NIMDAC Foundation, which has raised thousands of dollars to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Foundation for the Physically Disabled and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. She was also actively involved with St. Joseph's Health Centre Foundation, assisting with initiatives to raise money for the Health Centre's new patient care wing, set to be completed in the spring of 2011 and has also personally contributed $30,000 in support of St. Joseph's. Today, she continues working with many charitable organizations and also strives to enhance medical education opportunities for physicians across the province.

In 2004, Dr. Asha Seth was also appointed by Premier Dalton McGuinty as Chair, Province of Ontario Police Bravery Advisory Council, a position she still holds today. She is the first woman and first South Asian to be appointed to this position.

Canada – the land of opportunity

Fully trained in medicine in the United Kingdom, Dr. Seth admitted she thought she would have a 'soft landing' once she and her husband (also a physician) arrived in Winnipeg. This was not the case, Dr. Seth explained, as she faced many obstacles in settling in her new found home.

Even with all of her medical credentials from abroad, Dr. Seth needed to upgrade her skills and education to become licensed to work in Canada. As she prepared to write her medical exam, she learned that her husband was diagnosed with a severe brain illness and told by his physician that he wouldn't survive. Being new to the country, without a job with a young daughter and second one on the way, Dr. Seth was overwhelmed.

"Confronted with this (news) I was even more determined to face the storm with tenacity, courage and resolve," said Dr. Seth. In the end, her husband survived his illness, she passed her exam and they were able to welcome their second daughter into the world together.

Once the dust settled, the Seth family decided to take a trip to Toronto. Once in the city, the couple, Dr. Seth recalls with a smile "passed by St. Joseph's and my husband applied for a job. Dr. Watt was the head of Internal Medicine at the time, and hired him." Soon after, Dr. Seth was also hired on as an obstetric/gynaecology resident and then started her own private practice in the community.

"My roots are in St. Joseph's, I grew up here, my family grew up here. I wouldn't be where I am today with out St. Joseph's Health Centre. I am very lucky."

Being involved with St. Joseph's Health Centre Foundation is her way of giving back to the hospital that gave her everything, says Dr. Seth. "St. Joseph's is the best community hospital. So much has changed here over the years, so many advancements in surgery, gynaecology and mental health. (In addition to raising money) I want to raise awareness about this great hospital."

Dr. Seth is very thankful to be where she is today. While many people choose to come to this country to make a better life for themselves and their families, Dr. Seth knows first hand about the challenges newcomers face.

"Canada is the land of opportunity and the land of immigrants. Our stories will set an example for our children, and generations to come – we contribute to the success of this great country. I want people to remember three things:

  • No matter what, don't give up.
  • Believe in yourself and you will succeed.
  • Pay it forward and do not forget the people who have helped you along the way."

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