Ryerson dance student paralyzed after swimming accident in Cuba

A swimming accident has paralyzed a promising dance student vacationing in Cuba.

Napu Boychuk, 29, was in his fourth and final year of study at Ryerson University’s dance program.

See Full Article

He studied jazz, contemporary and modern styles, but ballet was his first love.

“He’s a very talented and a very passionate dancer,” said Peggy Shannon, chair of Ryerson’s theatre school. “What that means, being in his final year, is that he’s gone through four years of rigorous dance training.”

Boychuk was on vacation with his father and sister when he was caught by a strong ocean undertow and hit a rock, shattering his neck and leaving him paralyzed.

“He’s been on assisted breathing for the last 35 days or so,” said Boychuk’s friend, Sean Connor. “He’s making a lot of progress. He’s able to breathe on his own for extended periods of time now.

“From what I understand, he has feeling in both of his arms and legs, which is very encouraging, but unfortunately, he’s unable to use either at this point.”

Boychuk, who was born in Yellowknife and raised in Iqaluit, may be the only Inuk ballet dancer in the world. And the communities are rallying to help him.

In Iqaluit, they’ve already raised $11,000 to help pay for Boychuk’s rehabilitation. Connor said staff at Scallywags Bar in Toronto where Boychuk worked are planning a fundraiser for him on Friday.

Ryerson’s theatre and dance school is also planning weekend benefits. There is also a Facebook page dedicated to helping Boychuk’s recovery.

“Anybody who knows Napu knows that he’s one of the happiest, kindest guys… We’re really encouraged that the strength of his spirit will help carry him through this,” Connor said.

Travel insurance cut off

Boychuk still faces months of rehabilitation. He is currently receiving treatment in Cuba, where he hopes to stay until he is fit to return to Canada. But that is causing problems with the travel insurance coverage that is helping his family pay for treatment.

The insurance provider cut of Boychuck’s coverage when his family refused to have him flown back to Canada for treatment.

But Boychuk’s family says he is in no condition to fly.

“The insurance wanted Napu flown out the very next day after his operation and we were told by the Canadian Embassy that the last young man who was flown out with a spinal cord injury died in flight,” said Dan Boychuk, the dancer’s father.

Boychuk’s insurance provider said it would no longer pay hospital bills after Jan. 7

Most travel insurance policies come with similar limitations. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association says in most cases of illness or injury, the insurance company will want to fly somebody back to their home province as soon as possible.

But Dan says the family and doctors will determine what’s best for his son.

“They’re claiming that it’s not an emergency,” he said. “They want to fly people out right away back to the host country regardless of the patient’s interests.”

Other travel insurance loopholes include having a pre-existing condition, being under the influence at the time of injury or illness, taking part in high-risk activities or simply having incomplete insurance documentation.

The Boychuk family says they will keep up the fight to have Napu’s hospital bills paid.

Ryerson University also includes travel insurance for all its students as part of tuition fees, so there’s a chance Boychuk’s hospitals could be covered by the school.

With reports from CTV Toronto’s Pauline Chan and Pat Foran



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 100 people feared buried in China landslide

    World News CBC News
    A county government in southwestern China says around 100 people from 40 homes are feared buried by a landslide that crashed into their homes. The government of Mao county in Sichuan province says the landslide from a mountain fell onto the village of Xinmo at about 6 a.m. Source
  • Wainwright-based military member charged with child porn offences

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Wainwright-based soldier is charged with child pornography related offences after a joint investigation by the province’s Internet Child Exploitation unit and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. It’s alleged the man attempted to arrange to meet up with a Texas girl for sex, says a Friday news release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. Source
  • Syrian doctor barred from U.S. under travel ban resettles in Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    A respected Syrian doctor blocked from re-entering the United States to continue his Ivy League education after U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban has found a new home in Canada. Khaled Almilaji arrived in Toronto last Friday and was reunited with his wife, Jehan Mouhsen. Source
  • Michigan terror attack planned?

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Montreal man accused of trying to kill an airport cop in the U.S. did so on a highly symbolic day for Muslims, TVA reports. The network reports that Wednesday — the day Amor Ftouhi allegedly almost killed the officer at an airport in Flint, Michigan — was Laylat Al-Qadr or “night of fate. Source
  • Hockey hothead, 18, jailed for punching ref

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Cole Trevor Crane’s hockey horizons have been put on ice. The Dave Schultz wannabe has been jailed for 30 days after pleading guilty to pummeling a referee during a PEI midget AA hockey game on March 26. Source
  • Heavy rains prompt evacuations in Ontario town

    Canada News CTV News
    WATERLOO, Ont. - Heavy rain in the Waterloo, Ont., area has prompted some evacuations and at least one community has declared a state of emergency. The town of Minto, northwest of Kitchener, declared an emergency Friday morning and moved up to 30 families from their homes and closed some roads and streets in the community. Source
  • U.S. senators ask military to clarify role in Yemen torture

    World News CBC News
    Pressure mounted on the U.S. Defence Department Friday after multiple senators called for investigations into reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates who are accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. Source
  • Mulcair unimpressed by Canadian sniper's record kill

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    NDP leader Tom Mulcair is targeting the Liberals after it emerged a Canadian sniper smashed the world record for the longest confirmed kill. The gunman took an ISIS fighter off the board in northern Iraq with a shot that travelled more than 3.5 kilometres to hit its target — more than a kilometre better than the previous top shot. Source
  • Black off-duty St. Louis police officer shot by white officer

    World News CTV News
    St. Louis police say a black off-duty officer who heard a commotion near his home and tried to help fellow officers arrest three black suspects has been shot by a white officer who did not recognize him. Source
  • Footing the bill: Yukon willing to swap free trip for human toes

    Canada News CTV News
    Tourism Yukon has started a strange (but they insist, very real) search for donated human toes. The macabre contest comes after a brown, mummified toe served in a famous cocktail in Dawson City went missing. Source