Starting memorial scholarship 'gave me a mission in life,' says mother

After losing her only son in a motorcycle crash three years ago, Nova Scotia dentist Dr. Simar Hundal created a scholarship in her son's name to celebrate 'goodness and simplicity.'

Angad Hundal Memorial scholarship celebrates 'goodness and simplicity'

Angad Hundal, left, died in 2013. His mother, Dr. Simar Hundal, started a scholarship in his memory. (Simar Hundal)

Three years ago this month, Dr. Simar Hundal lost her teenage son. 

Now she's found a way to heal. 

This week she announced the first recipient in an annual scholarship she founded with her husband, the AngadHundal Memorial Award.

A grieving mother

"When I started at it, it was just a desperate attempt of a grieving mother to keep her son's name alive," Hundal said. "It gave me a mission in life."

Three years ago, her family was settling into Bedford, having moved from India by way of Ontario. A longtime dentist in India, Hundal had graduated from Dalhousie's dentistry school and was on her way to starting a practice in Canada. 

Then her son, 18-year-old Angad Hundal, died in a motorcycle crash. He was weeks away from starting a science degree at Dalhousie University.

Jagdeep Hundal, right, Simar Hundal and Angad Hundal lived in Halifax while Simar studied at Dalhousie. (Simar Hundal)

Hundal became depressed, and couldn't work for a year.

"I was privileged in that way. I could afford not to work for a year and still be OK financially," she said.

"I grieved, grieved and grieved, and then I decided to move on and find new opportunities in life."

116 applications

She carefully chose the scholarship winner after reading all 116 applications over one day. Those stories will stay with her.

"It's eye opening," Hundal said.

"I have seen some of the students share their stories, where they share their struggles with stress, with anxiety and depression, and how they got through it — and some students explained how a death of a parent destroyed them, and how they got out of it."

'Goodness and simplicity'

The award went to Noah Shields of Mineville, N.S., from the Halifax Christian Academy.

"I know how happy he was," she said, though being "so kind and humble," he didn't expect to win.

The scholarship is to celebrate "goodness and simplicity," and encourage teens to become better people — academics aside, Hundal said. That's how she's passing on the lesson learned from her son, "known for his kindness, a very big heart, very humble, very fair."

Angad Hundal died in 2013. (Simar Hundal)

"I see that people who shout more are seen more. I see that quiet and humble and good people kind of are on the sidelines," she said.

"Competitiveness and financial success does not make you a good human being. You have to be kind and fair to others to be a kind human being."

A mother's legacy

Now Hundal owns two successful dental clinics in Dartmouth. She says she feels capable of financially helping others. But this scholarship is growing beyond a way to honour Angad's memory.

"You know, I have nothing to live for," Hundal said.

"Normally, you think, 'You have kids. You want to leave some legacy for them,' but this is probably going to be my legacy in life, to help youngsters … I felt like I have to do more than I'm doing."

Hundal is presenting the award to Shields at a ceremony in early September, before the young man moves to Alberta to learn to be a pilot.