Every season there’s at least one team on The Amazing Race Canada that just seems to be having a blast doing the race while also being totally themselves and we can’t help but love them for it. And when that same team also shares a genuine love for each other while bringing awareness to a certain cause on the show? Well that’s just gold.
Enter this year’s married duo Anthony Johnson and James Makokis. Not only are the current Edmonton residents seemingly perfectly matched, but part of why they’re racing is to show young Indigenous people that there are people “like them” who are successful (Johnson is a project consultant; Makokis is a doctor) and still committed to their cultural and spiritual ways.
Plus, they’re just super cute together, finishing each other’s sentences and promising to wear “fierce” outfits and “dope” fanny-packs on the race whenever they can.
A true meet-cute
Coincidentally, it was Makokis’ courage that brought him into his future husband’s orbit in the first place. Out Magazine was doing a spread, and asked him to be among those featured.
“I asked myself if I wanted to do this. We had to dress up in our powwow regalia and in the end I was like, ‘What’s the worst that could happen? You never know what could happen from this,’” Makokis recalls. “The issue appeared in September. I was in Australia doing a book launch for a book chapter that I wrote, and Anthony messaged me on Facebook.”
“I was in Brooklyn working the fashion game and trying to get ahead in life. I’m Navajo from Arizona so I had experienced some homophobia around some ceremonial communities that I am a part of,” Johnson adds. “I knew there was a basis for understanding sexuality and gender diversity from a traditional perspective and I had sought out resources to learn more about that over the years. Unfortunately I didn’t get very far and so when I saw the article James was in I reached out to him because he was the only person who had an actual name. Everyone else was like, Spirit Wildcat or like, Landa Lakes.”
The pair started chatting and three years ago, for Johnson’s 30th birthday, Makokis travelled to Manhattan where they had “this awesome New York romance.”
Your new life motto: Ahkameyimok
While showcasing strong teamwork and their genuine love for each other is a top goal for this team, they also want to help educate the rest of Canada on Indigenous life. They say they’ve never had the opportunity to see how two people like them might interact together on television before, and that their casting is a huge step in overall Canadian diversity.
“Diversity is important because our world is diverse. The more people that we see, the more voices we hear about, the more history we learn from one another, the more our hearts open to humanity and the world,” Johnson says. “Our team motto is Ahkameyimok. It’s a word you say to another person’s spirit to say, dig deep within yourself and find that element of your spirit, that true essence of yourself and exert it and do your best. When you do that, that’s when you achieve breakthrough results. That’s when you overcome things that are in your path.”
“It’s something elders say to younger people as encouragement,” Makokis explains. “We want to be positive. And we want others to learn a little about Indigenous languages and say something pretty easy that they could also use in their own life.”
“It’s also just really fun to say!” adds Johnson.
We’ll all be yelling ‘Ahkameyimok’ when The Amazing Race Canada kicks off Tuesday, July 2 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.