Anthony Johnson – Indigenous, two-spirit couple wins The Amazing Race Canada – SBC
Credit:Speakers Bureau of Canada www.speakerscanada.com
“Anthony Johnson’s life has never been easy. Growing up in a First Nation community in the USA, he faced similar challenges, social circumstances, and lack of access that many First Nation communities face in Canada. As a youth, Johnson struggled to find personal value and social acceptance within the societal structures such as family, peer groups, and members of his community. His high energy, honest and Two Spirit inner self led to many difficult situations for him he was alienated by social forces and social structures reinforcing his inferiority, telling him that he should not act a certain way or participate in a certain activity.
It was in these years’ when Anthony Johnson turned to drugs and experienced mental health issues. He used drugs to numb and ignore the external and internal forces that caused the pain. It was not until he was able to come to terms with his addictions and mental health issues and he reconnected with his mother which led him to seek recovery. He then started to reconnect with his roots, his Navajo heritage and community, and to apply himself to his education.
The next chapter of Anthony Johnson’s life was spent dedicating his time on his personal development and his community. He went back to school and gained his B.A of Economics & Social Anthropology from Harvard University. Anthony was involved in many extra-curricular activities including Student Government, the Entrepreneurship Forum, the Harvard Cheerleading Team, the Harvard Foundation. the Harvard University Native American Program Speech and Debate clubs.
Back home Anthony Johnson regularly did odd jobs for individuals in his community and volunteered wherever he could. Johnson’s community has an unemployment rate of 50% which sparked frustration for him, as it was hard for him to visualize a future as it would be nearly impossible for him to be able to make a good life on his reserve. In dedicating his time volunteering and by doing odd jobs in his community, Johnson learned that he had a strong will to help others through human connection. He realized the power of making someone smile, giving them hope and to advocate for people who faced similar problems. That’s where he found the highest value for himself. This led Johnson down a new path of restoration with a passion to make real change in each other which will then change systems and social structures that promote inequality.
Anthony Johnson currently works as a project consultant for with Teysha, a social impact organization that blends heritage with innovation. Their main hub is in Antigua, Guatemala, where they employ over twenty traditional shoemakers to bring shoes to life. They are a grassroots network of women-run cooperatives, small businesses, and artisan groups who create woven textiles by hand, in their homes or communities, surrounded by their family. Beyond Guatemala, they also work with amazing artisan groups in Panama, Mexico, and more communities to come. Each and every product encompasses an entire supply chain made up of people, families, and small businesses. Anthony Johnson leads his team that believes that instills hope for many communities by creating opportunities and develop talents instead of relying on donations.
Johnson married his husband, medical doctor James Makokis, during the 2017 BMO Harris Vancouver Marathon. The married couple then represented the LGBTQ2 community as the first Two-Spirit Team (Team Ahkameyimok) on AMAZING RACE CANADA. They faced many obstacles during the season, escaping elimination on three separate occasions. Their resilience, teamwork and communication improved episode after episode and their “never give up” attitude showed the world the inner strength of Two Spirit resilience.
Mid way through the show, they experienced a strong turning point when they and another team decided to cross the finish line together after a very hard challenge. Both teams were surprised to learn that they had finished first and second on that day because the other teams took detours. Their hard work, high integrity and their core values of helping others brought new energy for Team Ahkameyimok. They together learned that they will always be able to overcome any situation if they face issues head on with a strong commitment to their values and each other.
Not only were they fierce competitors, but also they were able to provide Canadians and the world a new perspective and become role models for Indigenous, Two Spirt and LGBTQ2 peoples. Unfortunate and disheartening perceptions of the public can often bring negative attention about who they are as people. This led to them making the finals and eventually being crowned AMAZING RACE CANADA WINNERS OF SEASON 7!