In her brief life, Cami impacted the lives of thousands within the Hawaiian community and beyond. She was a steadfast aloha 'aina warrior and wahine mana. Her life was dedicated to her 'ohana, first and foremost, her husband and their four keiki, and to her lahui, which she always viewed as strong and thriving in today's world. One of her biggest life interests was restoration of native practices in the modern-day context. Always warm and welcoming, Cami was kind and opened her doors to all. She took great care and interest in those who sought friendship and counsel from her on a wide variety of issues.
Cami is survived by her beloved husband Lincoln Laiana Kanoa-Wong; daughter Ha'aipo; sons Kealoha'aina, Puamana, and Kekia'ionamoku. In addition to her parents, she is survived by grandfather Ian Birnie; step mother Kelly Kanoa; sisters Tiare, Tiffany & Tasha; and many beloved aunties, uncles, cousins and friends.
Cami was raised in Manoa Valley. She attended Manoa Elementary and La Pietra, Hawai'i School for Girls. She spent her sophomore year at Island School on Kaua'i and returned to Honolulu to graduate from La Pietra with the Class of 2000. She spent one year at Oregon State University and ultimately finished her studies at University of Hawai'i at Manoa with a double major in Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language, 'Olelo Hawai'i.
Cami worked at Kua'aina Sandwiches, Na Mea Hawai'i/Native Books and Hale Noa. Before graduating college, Cami taught at Punana Leo o Honolulu and Punana Leo o Kawaiaha'o, and later at Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Pu'ohala, Kamehameha Schools, Halau Ku Mana, Kanehunamoku Voyaging Academy, Ho'ola Mokauea, Hakipu'u Learning Center, and Ko'olau 'Aina Momona Academy. She danced hula for Na Pualei o Likolehua with Kumu Hula Leina'ala Kalama Heine and her daughter Niuli'i Heine, and performed in the 2016 Merrie Monarch Festival.
She met her husband Laiana—also a Hawaiian language and culture advocate—at Hale Noa where they shared rich discussions over the kanoa, 'awa bowl. As an active member of Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana, Cami invited Laiana to Kaho'olawe for Makahiki which, according to Laiana, was where they reveled in their respective appreciation of culture, language and lahui, and fell in love. They eventually married at sunrise on La Ho'iho'i Ea on the sands of Kaupo, Waimanalo.
Prior to the birth of her first child, Cami heavily researched Hawaiian traditions around pregnancy and childbirth, becoming a staunch advocate of traditional birthing practices. All four of Cami and Laiana's keiki were delivered at home, inspiring many of her peers to explore homebirth and cultural traditions. She was a trained doula and was training as a midwife. Whether families chose to give birth at home or in a hospital setting, Cami always advocated for natural birthing practices. She was a member of several birthing and breastfeeding collectives and in August 2021 she participated in the Indigenous Breastfeeding campaign.
Cami's mo'oku'auhau is traced back 96 generations to Kumuhonua. Through her mother's line, Cami is descendant of Pi'ilani, 16th century Mo'i of Maui, and his son Kiha a Pi'ilani. Through her father's line, Cami descends from High Chief Keli'imaika'i, younger brother and only full sibling of Kamehameha 'Ekahi.
As in birth, Cami has inspired us in death, both in the fierceness she fought until her last breath and in the way that she transcended to the next realm through a traditional and culturally grounded Hawaiian process that preserved her iwi. She will be buried in the spring on her family's kulaiwi in Kohala.
More stories, photos and information are available at www.kameaaloha.org.