By Heidi Lee
A fourth-year Ryerson nursing student has become one of the first recipients of the inaugural SickKids Award for Indigenous and Black Nursing Students.
Hilda Oni was selected for the award, which was created in November 2021 in alignment with SickKids’ 2025 strategic plan to “champion equity, diversity and inclusion.” As one of four award winners, Oni received a $5,000 bursary for her tuition and was offered her final year placement with the nursing program in pediatric cardiology at SickKids hospital.
The award is part of SickKids’ “commitment to Indigenous Health Equity and broader equity, diversity and inclusion.” According to SickKids, these recipients were selected based on” their commitment to pediatric acute care nursing and health equity, as well as their exemplary leadership and courage.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s Black Nurses Task Force published a report in January that surveyed 205 Black nurses in Ontario and came up with 19 recommendations to address racism in the nursing workplace and academia.
One of the 19 recommendations stated that providing mentoring programs and financial grants specifically for Black nursing students could not only enhance academic achievements, but also reduce stress, anxiety and dropout rates.
There’s never a dull moment with kids,” said Oni. “They’re fun, great conversationalists and they definitely keep you on your toes”
Oni said it was “pretty shocking” to find out that she had won the award, adding that the placement she gained from the award is an amazing opportunity.
“I knew I wanted to work with youth populations for a long time because I feel like children are a product of their environment, whether it be due to factors that they can’t control, or factors that they do have a bit of control over,” she said.
Oni added that she wanted it to be a resource for the children and feels like “SickKids was the perfect opportunity for me to gain experience working with kids.”
“So far, I’ve been loving every moment of it. There’s never a dull moment with kids,” said Oni. “They’re fun, great conversationalists and they definitely keep you on your toes.”
Oni, along with three other nursing students, were announced as recipients on Jan. 25. Oni is currently supporting patients through their cardiac illnesses. In her first year at the nursing program, Oni and her classmates started off working at long-term care homes, which Oni said “not everybody was super excited to do.”
“I try to go into each of my placements with an open mind, take whatever knowledge and information I can gain from it, and then apply that knowledge into my future practice,” said Oni.
“Even if long-term care, surgery or even cardiology is not the exact field I want to work in, I always take the experiences from those placements and move that into my future practice,” she added.
Oni said she likes the aspect of healthcare that intersects with social environments, which she hopes to apply to helping children.
“Even if long-term care, surgery or even cardiology is not the exact field I want to work in, I always take the experiences from those placements and move that into my future practice”
“When it comes to preventative medicine, health promotion, and the biomedical model, all of them intersect a lot more than people think that they do—especially when it comes to kids,” she said.
She added that children who are missing school because they’re in the hospital are going to integrate back into it as they move forward. On the other hand, she says many are also dealing with body image issues.
“I feel like working in pediatrics helps support kids within their social development because as they’re growing, they’re becoming more socialized within the environment, and I am supporting them through whatever illness they may have.”