James Makokis and Anthony Johnson
“Our Existences Are Political”: Identity and History as Pathways for Transformation
This series is made possible with the generous support of the R & J Stern Family Foundation
Media Partner: The Georgia Straight
About the Talk:
In 2019, James Makokis and Anthony Johnson became the first two-spirit Indigenous couple to win The Amazing Race Canada. But the real victory for them was raising awareness and shattering stereotypes. The pair used the competition as a platform to tackle topics like gender and sexual identity, racism, mental health and the environment. They did so through an Indigenous lens, naming their team Ahkameyimok, a Cree word that roughly translates to “never give up.”
In this talk, Makokis and Johnson will share their personal transformations, from their early years facing adversity around two-spirit and Indigenous identities to a lifetime of education, transforming them into leaders, activists and role models. They will explore what it means to fully connect with our histories and embody the values of our ancestors. In these seemingly chaotic times, marked by a pandemic and a movement toward racial justice, this talk will challenge viewers to turn hopelessness on its head. It will empower them to harness their own histories and identities toward positive transformation.
About the Speakers:
A proud Cree from the Saddle Lake First Nation in northern Alberta, Dr. James Makokis runs a transgender-focused medical practice and is a leader in Indigenous, LGBTQ2 and medical communities. He has a two-spirit perspective and strong connections to preventative health and spirituality.
Dr. Makokis holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and food sciences, a Master of Health Science in community nutrition and a doctorate in medicine. He also received certification from the Aboriginal Family Medicine Training Program.
In addition to The Amazing Race Canada, Dr. Makokis has travelled alongside former governor general Michaëlle Jean on a diplomatic mission to Brazil and worked with Dr. Patch Adams in the Amazon jungle.
Born and raised on the Navajo nation, Johnson is a self-proclaimed spiritual nomad, artist, poet, photographer and cultural documentarian. After graduating from Harvard University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in economics and social anthropology of East Asia, he worked in the tech industry and fashion world. In 2019, he won The Amazing Race Canada with partner James Makokis. Johnson has a strong will to help others through human connection. He is passionate about enabling others to change systems and social structures that promote inequality.
About the Moderator:
Corrina Sparrow is a current PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality & Social Justice at UBC, whose research investigates contemporary Coast Salish Two Spirit identities, resiliency, and the use of traditional nation-specific, land-based values and knowledge in strengthening Two Spirit/Indigenous queer health and wellness. Corrina’s ancestors come from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nation, the Qualicum Nation of the Pentlatch People, and the Netherlands. A recent MA graduate (University of Victoria 2018), Corrina also has extensive community-based experience — from their current role as Social Development manager at Musqueam, to many years of strong advocacy and helping work in Indigenous child and family safety, cultural programming, community development, and social planning.