The latest season of Amazing Race Canada made such an impact on two Cree cousins that the girls will be trick-or-treating this Halloween as Anthony Johnson and James Makokis, the two-spirit couple who won the popular television competition in September.
“They represented missing and murdered Indigenous women and are helping the Cree, and being Indigenous,” said nine-year-old Willow Cardinal.
“We don’t want anybody else to go missing.”
Willow and her cousin Tenecia Cardinal, 12, are from Kehewin Cree Nation, about 230 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. That’s where Makokis has worked as a family physician for the last three years, and Johnson as a project co-ordinator at Kehewin Health Services.
“James and Anthony made a really big impact for the Treaty 6 territory with what they’ve done and how they spread awareness,” said Farrah Cardinal, Willow’s mother and Tenecia’s aunt.
The girls stopped by the clinic Tuesday night dressed as the couple, wearing red ribbon skirts sewn by their kokum to match the ones Johnson and Makokis wore on the show.
“I was so shocked,” said Makokis.
“It was kind of surreal to see these two little kids from the community who were dressed up like Anthony and I. It was amazing to know that we made an impact on them.”
The skirts were meant to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“In dressing up like us, they’re conscious of those issues that are important to them,” said Makokis.
“For us, it was important as male-identified two-spirit people to create a space and conversation within our nations, communities, and across the country about this important issue because Indigenous women have always been the leaders in our community.
“That’s been replaced by patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, and to have these little girls bringing attention to these issues within the community of Kehewin is amazing.”