"Our Existences Are Political": Identity and History As Pathways for Transformation

Dr. James Makokis and Anthony Johnson

Johnson and Makokis

A Letter to Our Participants:

On behalf of UBC Connects, Ceremonies and Events, and the Indigenous Research Support Initiative, we wish to extend our sincere and heartfelt apologies to all who experienced the disruptions, delays and confusion during the live event with James Makokis and Anthony Johnson on September 23, 2020.

This very special event had been in the works for an entire year, and we are equally disappointed that it didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped. We are extremely grateful to James and Anthony, as well as the event moderator; Corrina Sparrow, for persevering through the challenges and maintaining their high spirits, good humour and professionalism throughout the session. Unfortunately, we lost connection to the livestream on Vimeo after the first 10 minutes of the event and were unable to reconnect to the platform. We restarted the event on Zoom, but lost a number of participants in the transition. If you were amongst those who missed a portion or all of the event, once again, we are truly sorry for this unfortunate experience. Despite the challenges, the presentations were exceptional.

In the coming days, we will be posting an update on both the UBC Connects and IRSI websites, including a short segment of the presentation. We sincerely thank each of you for your support and patience.


About the talk:

In 2019, Dr. 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.

This Free, online LIVE event will be moderated by Corrina Sparrow and is presented in Partnership with UBC Connects.


About the Speakers:

James Makokis

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.


Anthony Johnson

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 

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. 


This is a Virtual Event
FREE, Open to the Public