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'Big undertaking': Rama woman excited about new role with APTN

'I wanted to get more involved with uplifting Indigenous voices and Indigenous representation in media,' Stephanie Willsey says of new role
Rama First Nation lawyer Stephanie Willsey is set to begin a new volunteer position with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

Rama First Nation lawyer Stephanie Willsey has been appointed to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) board of directors.

The Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute (ODCVI) graduate says she rarely saw Indigenous representation in television and movies growing up, which is what made her apply for the position.

"The APTN was the only thing when I was growing up that showed Indigenous programming and (Indigenous) people in media," Willsey said. "I wanted to get more involved with uplifting Indigenous voices and Indigenous representation in media."

While on the board, Willsey says she will strive to better support Indigenous storytellers to showcase their talents.

In 2022, Willsey won an $8-billion class-action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of reserves who have not had access to clean drinking water. The successful lawyer will continue her work in law while contributing to the APTN in her spare time.

"It will be a big undertaking," she said. "But I'm looking forward to it."

Willsey, 30, splits her time living in Toronto and Rama First Nation. She says her home community has been "incredibly supportive" of her ventures.

"I grew up with my family and have lots of friends in Rama," she said. "I feel like I wouldn't be able to do a lot of what I've been able to achieve without the support of the community and our members."

Willsey says she strives to make the community proud and to represent them well with her work.

"It's so important to make sure that other Indigenous people know that we are taking up space and taking on these roles that maybe historically we haven't had."

Willsey says she has been inspired by her community to achieve the successes that she has had.

"I look up to so many people from my community," she said. "Our chief has achieved so much. Our knowledge keepers and artists like Chief Lady Bird have also always been really inspiring to me."

Willsey aspires to follow suit in being a role model for youth and Indigenous people and said she hopes to do so through her new role with the APTN. 

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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