Kids, with their rampant dreams and wild imaginations, never fail to interpret Halloween in creative ways.
Some go spooky. Others go with a gag. Some prefer to do something more aspirational, which is exactly what two Cree cousins from Kehewin Cree Nation in Alberta did this Halloween.
“They’re Indigenous celebrities,” Farrah Cardinal, Willow’s mother, told HuffPost Canada. “They work in our community, they won ‘Amazing Race’ — it was such a cute idea to be little replicas of these local role models.”
Watch: The two-spirit couple that won “The Amazing Race Canada.” Story continues below.
Earlier this year, when “The Amazing Race Canada” aired, many viewers were enchanted by Johnson and Makokis. Throughout their time on the show, the couple chose to highlight issues close to their communities and to their hearts.
They wore “Water Is Life” shirts to acknowledge the cultural and ceremonial importance of water. They sported red handmade skirts and bandanas for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Johnson and Makokis also made it a principle to show two-spirit and transgender youth that it’s OK to be different.
“They represented missing and murdered Indigenous women and are helping the Cree,” Willow Cardinal told CBC. “We don’t want anybody else to go missing.”
When they won the competition, Johnson and Makokis announced that they intended to weave their newfound fame into fundraising for a cultural healing centre in Alberta’s Kehewin Cree Nation — the same community where Willow Tenecia are both from. (It’s also the same community where Makokis works as a family physician, and Johnson as a project coordinator at Kehewin Health Services.)
On Oct. 29, the two girls put on their outfits, which included red ribbon skirts made by Willow’s grandmother, to match those worn by Makokis and Johnson on the show.
“I came out [of my office] and Tenecia and Willow were standing there and I started laughing, because I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, they look so amazing!’” Makokis told CTV News. “And I was so surprised and so happy. It was pretty surreal.”
Makokis added that the costumes show how socially engaged the girls already are at their age, and that the healing centre they’re fundraising for will be a place for people like Willow and Tenecia to learn about their culture.