After years in Vancouver’s metal scene, a local musician has used his connections, history, and talents to help Indigenous youth become part of a community they otherwise may never have had the chance to.
Cambie Kroetsch was born in East Vancouver, a fact he only recently learned from his biological mother who came to the city from the Enoch Cree reserve just outside of Edmonton.
Kroetsch was adopted and moved to Edmonton, but at 19 years old he moved back, almost immediately embedding himself in Vancouver’s metal and skateboard culture. From there Kroetsch played many shows in the city and from 1990 to 2012 toured North America living out of a van with his bandmates.
Kroetsch, now 49, works in Vancouver’s film industry as a truck driver. With the job comes downtime which Kroetsch fills with music. Using an iPad he bought at the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Kroetsch wrote a song he would call “Pieces of Me”.
Wanting to do something more with the release of the song, Kroetsch reached out to his good friend Joe Buffalo, one of the founders of Nations Skate Youth. The non-profit uses skateboarding as a mechanism to empower Indigenous youth and embrace their right to self-determination.
"It just kind of grew from there,” Kroetsch said in a recent interview with Vancouver Is Awesome while on a hike through Lynn Canyon. “I liked what he was doing with that organization and that they were bringing skateboards and stuff like that to reserves around Western Canada."
So Kroetsch created a GoFundMe to the benefit of Nations Skate Youth with the promise of releasing his song once the campaign reached its goal of $5,000.
The campaign blew past that goal in less than a day with the campaign ending a week later a total of $11,151.
"I didn't even know what to think really, I was so surprised,” Kroetsch said. “Not really shocked at people's generosity, but just surprised that it happened so fast."
"I guess $10,000 isn't, you know, a million dollars but it makes a hell of a difference,” Kroetsch continued. “Getting some kids on some boards and at least stoking that fire for somebody."
Shortly after the campaign met its goal Kroetsch kept his end of the deal and released “Pieces of Me” performed by his band Shot Caller. The song features a solo from another Metro Vancouver metal legend Devin Townsend. The song’s mixing was overseen by Mike Fraser, another Vancouver local who also serves as the producer for AC/DC.
Kroetsch told V.I.A. he has plans for doing similar fundraising endeavours in the future but with a bigger emphasis on crowdfunding their production.
The production and release of “Pieces of Me” has a larger significance for Kroetsch as well. During his metal career, Kroetsch struggled with alcoholism but has come out on the other side of those challenges as a husband, father of two, and sober.
"This is like the first time I've ever done anything like this sober, play music, record music, make videos exist in that clear-headed realm,” Kroetsch said.