Edmonton couple excited to raise two-spirit awareness on Amazing Race Canada
'I wasn’t surprised because James posts every aspect of our life on Instagram'
From worry to excitement, an Edmonton couple competing in Season 7 of The Amazing Race Canada has gone through a flurry of emotions.
"I think one of my worries was that it could possibly end in divorce," family physician Dr. James Makokis told CBC Edmonton's Radio Active this week.
"We assumed that it would be a lot of running. Yet there's no way to prepare for the stress," added Makokis' partner, Anthony Johnson.
They make up one of 10 teams competing in the latest season of the reality TV competition, which will air on CTV starting July 2.
"I think we just decided to go into this as ourselves: open, honest, and we had a strong foundation going in," said Johnson. "So divorce was kind of the joke scenario but we knew that we'd work through whatever the race threw at us."
The teams face mental and physical challenges as they race across Canada's urban centres and remote outposts. Teams that fall behind the most are eliminated. The team that makes it to the final destination wins the top prize of $250,000, a trip around the world, and two vehicles.
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Racing is already part of the relationship between Makokis and Johnson, who tied the knot at the 32-kilometre marker while running the BMO Vancouver Marathon in 2017.
Both Makokis and Johnson identify as two-spirit, a term that describes gender and sexual diversity in Indigenous communities.
They believe being featured on The Amazing Race Canada will help more people understand what the term means.
"I think it definitely will bring some awareness about some of the teachings around gender diversity and sexual minorities that exist in North America, or Turtle Island, that existed prior to visitors coming to North America and this continent," said Makokis.
"So we're very happy as a married couple to be on the race showcasing that."
To prepare for the competition, the couple binge-watched every episode of the previous six seasons. They also focused on memory games and techniques, and cardio exercise.
"We wanted to have fun and really take the time, you know, in watching previous seasons," said Makokis. "They went to such beautiful places and did such amazing things that it's rare for the average person to do that. So we wanted to be present in each moment and really take it in while also beating the team behind us."
They have a secret weapon — a gender-neutral fanny pack, and a special team name — Team Ahkameyimok, a word from the Plains Cree language.
"It's a word that usually our elders say to our people as encouragement, like 'Don't give up. Keep going. Persevere," said Makokis. "To reach deep down inside of you and grab that essence that you need to keep on going."
"It's also really fun to say," said Johnson.
With files from CBC Edmonton’s Sheena Rossiter