When Mona Kalra immigrated to Canada in 2002, she brought with her the hopes and dreams of her family in India. “It was my father’s dream for me to become a physiotherapist and open my own clinic,” says Kalra.
Ten years later, she owns not one, but two clinics, and her success has been acknowledged with a prestigious Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award.
Every year, the City of Ottawa celebrates and recognizes local business people who have immigrated to Canada, achieved success in their entrepreneurial endeavours and contributed their time and support to make a difference in the community. The awards were presented on Jan. 29 in partnership with the Economic Club of Canada.
“Today’s recipients demonstrate how important immigration is to our city, our cultural vitality and our economic prosperity,” says Mayor Jim Watson.
The four 2014 recipients include Anand Aggarwal of Manor Park Development, Abdul Haseeb Awan of BitAccess Inc., Peyman Yazdani of Subway Restaurants, and Mona Kalra of MapleCare Physiotherapy.
“I was surprised and pleased to receive this award, and I felt thankful for everyone who supported and encouraged me to become an entrepreneur,” says Kalra.
Kalra was born in Surat, which is now the second largest city in the state of Gujarat, and the eighth largest city in India. Her father was an entrepreneur, working in the textile business.
Before immigrating to Canada, Kalra operated a physiotherapy clinic for seven years in Surat, and later in Bombay. In Canada, she obtained her licence to practice physiotherapy and started to build a new business. She did all this while settling into a new country and raising two children.
In 2012, Kalra and her husband, Sanjiv, opened their first MapleCare Physiotherapy Clinic in Nepean. Last May, they opened a second clinic on Holland Avenue in Wellington West. Kalra, along with a growing team of physiotherapists, provide care to patients with neurological, orthopedic and geriatric conditions.
Her work is clearly a labour of love. “It’s a pleasure. I love my work,” she says with a grin. “If you love your job, your inspiration travels.”
Her positivity must be infectious, because her circle of support is large: she credits her husband, children, neighbours, friends, and the Buddhist community to which she belongs for helping her on her journey. Though her family lives in India, their support is constant.
“My mother-in-law stays with us often, so she is a big support. My father, my mother, brother, all have encouraged me.” Kalra also has high praise for the health care community.
“Physiotherapists and other health professionals have supported me through the curve of getting my licence to helping me get where I am today—at every stage,” says Kalra.
Kalra gives back to the community that has given her so much. She volunteers at her school, is actively involved in the Buddhist community, and supports aspiring entrepreneurs.
“It can be through giving donations or time, or just encouraging somebody because that was what I most needed when I started out. You are ready to do things, but you need support.”
Kalra sees the Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award as a testament to those who have supported her. It seems appropriate then, that her mother, brother and sister-in-law travelled from India to attend the award ceremony—braving the January cold.
Sadly, Kalra’s father passed away in December, just one month before she received the award, but she knows he’d be proud: “I think he would say, ‘I knew you could do it.’”