Stefan Keyes grew up in Ottawa Community Housing, where he says may of his best memories and his closest friends come from.
He was raised to respect and understand value of hard work, perseverance, and never giving up. However, growing up in a low-income neighbourhood also taught him to be conscious of class, economic differences, and social demographics.
There were moments during which he felt like an outsider, recalling a moment from elementary school when a lunch lady pressed him on his background and where he was ‘from’, ignoring his insistence that he was Canadian by birth and only accepting the answer that his parents immigrated from Jamaica.
This sense of being an outsider was exacerbated by the fact that Stefan did not see anyone who looked like him in the mainstream media. This is a troubling phenomenon, given that media seemed to share stories that disproportionately highlighted certain groups negatively rather than including diverse perspectives. With these experiences in mind, Stefan knew that he wanted his future career to help improve diversity.
As someone who had always loved the performing arts and speaking in front of others, the media was a natural fit for him. Since he was a child, Stefan has been passionate about the performing arts.
Stefan’s talent and work ethic earned him a scholarship for private theatre lessons and he attended Canterbury Arts high school. Following graduation he was offered a spot at a prestigious theatre school in the United States, but found the tuition to be inaccessible.
While this may have seemed like a roadblock at the time, it led him to pursue Journalism studies at Carleton University and eventually to his spot as the CTV Morning Live anchor. He worked hard to move through the ranks of CTV, working as an editorial assistant, weekend and evening reporter, a producer, and even moving to Calgary to gain experience as a morning anchor before returning to Ottawa in his current position.
Stefan hopes that his role will help others, and particularly young people, to feel represented in the media and to share diverse perspectives.
Beyond CTV, Stefan is involved in several non-profit initiatives for the arts and youth. As an Ottawa Community Housing Ambassador, Stefan has found that the most effective way to get across his message is to avoid preaching to other youth, but rather to spend time with them, and simply share stories. After meaningful conversation, things that once felt impossible often no longer feel beyond the realm of possibility.