International Women’s Day: Montreal trailblazing doctor hopes to inspire others

Click to play video: 'Brown Diva Dolls'
Brown Diva Dolls
WATCH: She made history when she became Canada’s first Black woman interventional cardiologist, and now, her “Brown Diva Dolls” likeness is an inspiration to children everywhere. Dr. Alexandra Bastiany and Brown Diva Dolls founder Clara Lewis join Global’s Laura Casella to share their stories – Mar 8, 2023

When Alexandra Bastiany graduated in 2020, she didn’t quite grasp the significance of the moment.

Bastiany is the first Black woman to become an interventional cardiologist in Canada.

Of course, Bastiany recognized that becoming a doctor was an accomplishment to be proud of.

Read more: How International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world

But, it wasn’t until family, friends and her community sent words of encouragement that she realized the true importance of her role as a trailblazer — especially for kids who look like her.

While Bastiany admitted it felt “weird” at first to be looked up to, it’s something she takes to heart.

“I’m happy because I’m able to give them that kind of hope that everything is possible,” she said Wednesday, during an interview on Global News Morning for International Women’s Day.

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Click to play video: 'International Women’s Day focuses on embracing equity'
International Women’s Day focuses on embracing equity

It’s a message she’s working hard to spread and last month, she got a bit of a boost from a local Montreal company.

Brown Diva Dolls surprised Bastiany with a doll in her likeness — stethoscope and all.

I was in awe,” Bastiany said. “She looks like me. She’s wearing my little outfit. She’s super cute. So I was definitely very excited and proud.”

Read more: ‘Stories of Black excellence’ missing from Canadian history: educators

Bastiany believes it’s important for kids to have toys they can relate to.

“I think that when kids can see someone that looks likes them do something that they wouldn’t necessarily think about, it opens their horizons,” she said.

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“It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be doctors or anything like that. It just means that they consider things or professions that they wouldn’t necessarily consider if they didn’t see, if they wouldn’t see someone that looked like them.”

Read more: Black students and educators in Montreal call for change to school curriculum

On a professional level, Bastiany is also working towards creating more opportunities for women and women of colour, as a member of the Equity Diversity Inclusion Committee of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Bastiany said her field of study is still largely dominated by men and while she did encounter a few women, there were no women of colour.

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“We are actually working actively to bridge that gap,” she said of the committee.

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