Piita Aapasskaan: A Kanai Skateboarder’s Story

Piita Aapasskaan: A Kanai Skateboarder’s Story

Over 20 years ago, Brock Mitchell captured a photo of his skateboarder friend, Kyle Young Pine. The black and white photo later became a blueprint for an inspiring documentary. The photo featured a young, smiling First Nations skateboarder based in Okotoks, Alta. Behind that smile hid despair and trauma. Kyle, although very talented, was plagued by addiction and hopelessness.

Piita Aapasskaan is an 18-minute long film featuring the Kanai Skateboarder’s story and the crossways the man faces when he decides to turn his life for the better. Pine’s personal life was average, or so he believed. He had two siblings, a father whom he rarely saw, and a mother and stepfather who were addicts. There was nobody around him who would show him the difference between right and wrong and keep him away from making poor choices that involved alcohol and drug abuse.

Pine belongs to the Kanai First Nation tribe, and he has always been a skateboarding enthusiast. Not only did it give him confidence, but it also became a good pastime that would keep him occupied for long periods. Whenever Kyle would return home, he was conditioned to believe that becoming an addict was his destiny because it was inevitable. He was 14 when he first started drinking and eventually started abusing pills, cocaine, and other drugs.

It became normal for him to skip work without informing and instead hit the parties. His behavior soon came with negative repercussions, and the young boy soon lost everything. One day, Pine was 25 and under the influence of alcohol after staying up all night. That’s when he decided to visit the skate park to help him sober up.

While trying to do the skateboarding trick, Pine found himself unable to maintain his balance. “I couldn’t feel my legs,” he said. This was when he decided to make a choice, and he chose skateboarding over drinking. “There were two paths – pleasure and pain. Pleasure is skateboarding and pain is drinking.” For him, the decision was a no-brainer, and he instantly gravitated toward the former.

That day marked a big milestone for Young Pine, as it was the day he broke loose from his addiction. Last November, he celebrated 9 years of complete sobriety and left us all inspired. Riddance from alcohol and drugs was the biggest he game himself. During his journey, Pine found his spirit and life purpose.

“I grew up in Okotoks, no culture and very western style.” While attending the Calgary Stampede, Pine saw a friend of his who was powwow dancing, and he suddenly had an epiphany. Even though he was raised in a western environment, he decided to go back to his roots. He decided to become a Fancy Dancer, which was essentially a way of letting go of the past.

After encountering his old friend Mitchell, Pine thought he would be perfect for a film project that he was already working on. The two friends wrote, edited, and created a documentary that highlights the Kanai Skateboarder’s story, from the recovery journey to becoming a fancy dancer. It is also educational about Indigenous culture. We recommend that you check out the documentary!


One Comment “Piita Aapasskaan: A Kanai Skateboarder’s Story”

  • Avatar for Janna



    Thank you for sharing the wonderful
    Piita Aapasskaan: A Kanai Skateboarder’s Story. Inspiration, determination and pride restored, show how one journey came to a better path and overcame.

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