Newcomers: A Doctor On The Police Board
By Teenaz Javat
“I have had the privilege of studying in India and a lot of what I have achieved today in Toronto can be traced back to a rock-solid education I was exposed to while growing up there.” – Dr. Dhun Farokh Noria.
With this quote I launched into an hour-long conversation with Dr. Dhun Farokh Noria, newly minted member of the Toronto Police Services Board. (The TPSB is a seven-member civilian body that oversees Canada’s largest municipal police service.)
Noria came to Canada as a young bride in the late 1960’s. On graduating from Osmania Medical College in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, Noria followed her husband Farokh to Toronto. However, to be able to pursue a medical career, she had to write the Education Council for Foreign Medical Graduates exam before departing for Toronto. Being successful on this exam meant Noria could continue to seamlessly work/study within the medical profession anywhere in Canada.
Immigrating to Canada opened up new opportunities for the newly-minted India-trained doctor.
“I knew right from the start that being good was not going to work. I had to be the best in my field,” says Noria, who is chief of laboratory medicine at Scarborough Hospital in Toronto. “Although I did not experience any discrimination at all from my peers, there was no wiggle room for failure.”
Noria and her husband came with nothing more than $8.00 in their pocket, and this was not due to lack of funds. Back in the sixties the Indian government exercised strict controls on foreign exchange and, tourists and migrants were not allowed to leave the country with anything more.
Hailing from a background of wealth and privilege, once in Toronto the young couple decided to bite the bullet. Going back would be to admit failure, so with strength and determination they persevered.
The past few decades have seen Noria win awards and accolades for her achievements both in and outside of her chosen profession. As her career took off, so did an overriding desire to give back to the community.
“We have now reached a stage in our lives where we have everything we need, so I like to get involved in causes that affect my spirit,” says Noria, who in 2002 received the University of Toronto’s 25-year service award for her work as a medical instructor. “If I see there is a need in the community that I live in, I will most certainly reach out and help. I love to get involved in causes that affect my spirit. Whether it is the Salvation Army Hospital or the critical care unit in a Toronto hospital, if I see the need I give.”
Noria has several pet projects which she holds close to her heart. She chairs the building capital campaign of the Zoroastrian Society of Ontario and is a board member of the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care.
Often described as a ‘tireless health care advocate’, Noria feels humbled and honoured to have been appointed as a member to the TPSB, a watchdog body which oversees the largest police force in all of Canada. ‘The values that I hold dear are quite in sync with the mission of the Toronto Police Service,” she says. “The core values of honesty and integrity sit in very well with my own set of values.”
Incidentally, all has not been smooth sailing for Noria. The mother of two adult children, she has had her share of setbacks, having survived cancer in 1994 and then again in 2003.
“I believe life has to go on. No point in moping, as you have to be your own pillar. In fact, it is these setbacks which have renewed my belief in using every minute of my day to the best possible advantage. I hate wasting time. No matter what your calling is, try to do your best.”
Her advice to all newcomers to Canada:
- Strive to do your best
- Think positively as it will attract positive energy
- Maintain the highest level of integrity
- Work on your inner strengths
- Show compassion and respect for others
- Do not wallow in self pity, it’s a waste of time
Coming to Canada with almost nothing but her education, Noria has broken the glass ceiling several times over and has been an inspiration to many who have crossed her path.
An avid gardener, Noria in her spare time indulges in big game fishing. This hobby has taken her from the pristine shores of the Arctic Ocean to the wild waters of the Amazon, all in search for the ultimate Big Fish. But for now, her position as member of the TPSB is perhaps the biggest fish in her net of achievements.