Six female doctors to be honoured with the Woman of Merit Award

Contact Staff

On Sunday, March 8, Quebec’s Health and Social Services minister, Dr. Lionel Carmant, will join other Montrealers at the Cote St. Luc Aquatic and Community Centre at an event “A Taste of Tea” that has become a massive celebration of women and their achievements and contributions.

This year, as usual, the annual event will feature the presentation of the Woman of Merit Awards and six medical practitioners – Dr. Stephanee Omotayo Bakare, Dr. Penny-Jane Baylis, Dr. Anita Brown-Johnson, Dr. Nana Graves, Dr. Fadji Koffi and Dr. Zahra Sohani – will be in the spotlight for the evening. and Dr. Carmant will be on hand to present them with the coveted awards.
According to Gemma Raeburn-Baynes, president of Playmas Montreal, the professionals have all distinguished themselves by their achievements and contributions…
“They have each made their mark, leading the way for greater equality and inspiring a whole new generation. These “Magnificent 6” are known for their passion and devotion in the service of their patients and for their exceptional contributions to improve and advance health care.
As Playmas Montreal celebrates our 20th Anniversary, we are proud to provide a unique opportunity for our community to come out and meet these extraordinary women.”
The afternoon of fun and excitement of tasty offerings will include exotic Caribbean teas, signature Caribbean delicacies and a most decadent sweet table and will be punctuated by a steady flow of entertainment with a Motown showcase featuring performances by Montreal Soul icon Michelle Sweeney and her live band, as well as Skipper Dean.
The six doctors being honoured with this year’s “Woman of Merit” awards are:

Dr. Stephanee Bakare

Dr. Stephanee Omotayo Bakare is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist and current Head of the Department at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire, Québec. Born and raised in Nigeria, she graduated from McGill with a B.Sc. in Anatomy and Cell Biology prior to gaining admission to McGill’s Faculty of Medicine in 1999. Upon completion of her medical degree, Dr. Bakare did her residency in Obstetrics-Gynecology, having been inspired by the original “Dr. B” – Dr. Alice Benjamin. Montreal’s West Island proved an ideal setting for her medical practice, affording her the opportunity to provide patient care in a private office, perform surgery and deliver babies at the Lakeshore General Hospital, while raising her family. Dr. Bakare is a previous Vice President of the Quebec Black Medical Association as well as a previous scholarship recipient. She is also a co-founder of Clinique Curel Med in Montreal. She is married with two children and enjoys gardening and travelling as hobbies.

Dr. Penny-Jane Baylis

Dr. Penny-Jane Baylis is a primary care sports medicine and family physician and associate faculty in the McGill’s Family Medicine department. She is the head team physician for Le Rocket de Laval hockey club, the farm team for the Montréal Canadiens. This physiotherapy graduate worked at Montreal General Hospital and the McGill Sport Medicine Clinic 1987 to 1997. In 2002, she received her medical degree from the University of the West Indies and in 2006 completed a family medicine residency at Dalhousie University. Dr. Baylis has been associated with the Montreal Alouette`s medical staff since 2006. She was Montreal’s Chief Medical Officer for the 2017 World Junior Hockey tournament. She currently works and teaches at Montreal General Hospital and the McGill Sport Medicine Clinic. She is a past Director of the McGill University Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. Dr. Baylis has also served as team physician for the Concordia University and Vanier College football teams.

Dr. Anita Brown-Johnson

Born in Montreal of Jamaican descent, Anita Brown-Johnson developed early on a passion for care of the elderly and other vulnerable populations. In 1983, she obtained a B.Sc. in Honours Biology with Distinction, then enrolled in medical school in 1984, briefly participating in the Canadian Medical Officer Training Program and earning the Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery Degree from McGill University in 1988. She completed the Family Medicine Residency Training program at McGill – Montreal General Hospital, earning Board Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 1990. Since 1999, Dr. Brown-Johnson has held academic appointments at McGill in Medicine and Geriatrics. She is currently Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at McGill and Interim Chief of Family Medicine in the McGill University Health Center/MUHC. She has been committed to community service for many years, ranging from mentorship of high school, CEGEP and undergraduate students to supporting at-risk youth.

Dr. Nana Graves

Nana Graves left her native Ghana at age 18 to pursue an education in medicine at McGill University. At that time, she was the sole Black woman in her class, graduating from medical school with a pediatric specialization in the late 1970s. Over the last four decades, Dr. Graves has worked in Northern Quebec and has owned her own clinic, earning a reputation as one of Montreal’s most respected pediatricians – an achievement all the more impressive as she built this career as a single mother, raising three children and integrating them into a culture unlike her original culture. She has consistently played an active role in Montreal’s Black community, particularly Ghanaian associations. She has been a member of the Quebec Black Medical Association (QBMA) since its inception over 20 years ago. As for volunteer commitment, Dr. Graves’ passion lies in helping Black youth in pursuit of medical careers.

Dr. Fadji Koffi

Born in Togo, West Africa, Fadji Koffi arrived in Canada at the age of seven with her parents who came to complete their PhD studies in Montreal. Subsequently, missionary work in Nebraska at a homeless shelter and volunteering in a palliative care residence made it clear that health care was her vocation. Having completed a mechanical engineering degree at Université du Quebec à Trois-Rivières, Fadji Koffi went on to study podiatry, receiving scholarships for academic performance. She is currently Québec’s first podiatrist who is also a mechanical engineer. After sitting on the Continuing Education committee of the Ordre des podiatres du Québec, Dr. Koffi is now a Board member of that professional corporation. In December 2018, she opened her Institut podiatrique du Québec. Her present study on the biomechanics of walking patterns is an excellent combination of her mechanical engineering background and podiatric profession. Dr. Koffi is an empathetic podiatrist focused on her patients.

Dr. Zahra Sohani

Dr. Zahra Sohani is a medical researcher and resident physician in Internal Medicine at McGill University. She completed her PhD training in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster University and obtained her MD from the University of Toronto. Her research is focused on understanding the cardiovascular health of women and developing methodology of big-data research in medicine. Some of her most recent work has focused on using global data to understand the causes of physician burnout as well as working with academic institutions and medical associations to effect policies that promote physician wellness. Dr. Sohani’s work has been published in leading academic journals including JAMA and BMJ. Outside of work, she enjoys writing short stories and embarking on hiking trails around the world.
In inviting Montrealers to be part of this marquee event, Raeburn-Baynes points to Playmas Montreal’s desire to continue to add to the cultural mosaic of the city by celebrating and promoting unity within diversity.
Ms. Yvonne Sam, registered nurse and educator, a former recipient of the Woman of Merit Award and a writer for Montreal Community CONTACT for the past two decades will deliver the keynote address.
Eramelinda Boquer, veteran broadcaster and award-winning community advocate will serve as master of ceremonies.

Tickets are $35 and available at Caribbean Curry House in Cote des Neiges, Caribbean Paradise Restaurant in LaSalle and Marche Colonnade in the West Island or by calling (514) 620-6612.