Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa saw a problem in healthcare and decided to fix it. For her work in confronting racism in medicine — while inspiring future doctors along the way — she was named to Maclean’s 2022 Power List as one of 50 Canadians forging new paths and re-shaping how we think and live.
In September 2016, Chika arrived at the University of Toronto as an incoming medical student to find she was the only Black student in her entire cohort. She channeled this disappointment into action, becoming a vocal advocate for improving disparities in Black health and confronting institutional discrimination.
Chika became an ambassador for the University of Toronto’s Black Student Application Program, which saw the University’s faculty of medicine admit the largest group of Black medical students in Canadian history in 2020. That same year, Chika was also the first Black woman to be named the sole valedictorian in the school’s 179-year history.
Today, Chika is a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto. “Psychiatry has some of the most marginalized patient demographics in medicine,” she told Maclean’s. “When I did my clinical rotations, I knew I needed to do something where mental health was the centre.”
In addition to upending historic barriers in healthcare, Chika is an accomplished spoken-word artist who has competed nationally as a slam poet. Her platform has allowed her to reach and inspire a new generation of doctors.
“I’ve spoken at my high school in Brampton, Ont., and had young Black women tell me, ‘I want to be a doctor because you did it, and you’re just like us,’” Chika said. “To be able to inspire them is so incredible for me.”
Chika has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including being named one of TIME magazine’s “2021 Next Generational Leaders”. She was also selected for Mattel’s Barbie Role Models program, where she was one of six women honoured with their very own one-of-a-kind Barbie doll to commemorate her contributions as a frontline healthcare worker.
“It was such a full circle moment for me, as a young girl who played with Barbies and always really wanted to see myself reflected,” Chika said. “Not only as a child who wanted to be a physician, but as a young Black girl.”
As a keynote speaker, Chika speaks to addressing inequities and advancing efforts in wellness and mental health, while sharing her evolution as an advocate and how we can all work together in building an equitable world.
Interested in learning more about Chika and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].