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

  • Quebec police looking for missing 17-year-old girl

    Canada News CTV News
    Police in Quebec are appealing to the public for help in locating a 17-year-old girl who has been missing for two days. Laval police said Kelly Martin Nolet was last seen leaving for work on Thursday, but she never showed up. Source
  • Montreal man convicted of manslaughter for killing wife who had Alzheimer's

    Canada News CBC News
    A jury has opted for the lesser of two possible verdicts suggested by a judge, finding Montrealer Michel Cadotte guilty of manslaughter for the 2017 death of his ailing wife. The jurors began their deliberations on Feb. Source
  • At least 20 killed in vehicle accident at China mine

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- State media report at least 20 people were killed and 30 injured in a vehicle accident at a mine in northern China blamed on faulty brakes. The Xinhua News Agency says the accident occurred Saturday morning at a lead, zinc and silver mine operated by the Yinman Mining Company in the sprawling inner Mongolia region. Source
  • Explosions, delays mark Nigeria's presidential election

    World News CBC News
    Gunfire and explosions opened the voting in Nigeria's delayed election on Saturday as President Muhammadu Buhari sought a second term. The vote, widely seen as too close to call, also was marred by hours-long delays at polling stations across the West African country. Source
  • Hundreds gather at celebration of life for former MP Paul Dewar

    Canada News CBC News
    Hundreds of people are filling an Ottawa church to say their final goodbyes to former MP Paul Dewar. Dewar, who represented the riding of Ottawa-Centre for almost a decade, died earlier this month from brain cancer. He was 56. Source
  • 'Tears of sadness for a life too short': Former MP Paul Dewar remembered at memorial service

    Canada News CBC News
    Hundreds of people filled an Ottawa church to capacity on Saturday to say their final goodbyes to former MP Paul Dewar. Dewar, who represented the riding of Ottawa-Centre for almost a decade, died earlier this month from brain cancer. Source
  • As U.S. plans in Syria shift, Canada tries to plan for own forces in Iraq

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The commander of Canada's special forces says officials are watching closely to see what impact U.S. plans to withdraw hundreds of soldiers from Syria could have on Canada's mission in neighbouring Iraq. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Maj. Source
  • Vietnam issues traffic ban for Kim's possible arrival route

    World News CTV News
    HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnam has announced an unprecedented traffic ban along a possible arrival route of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of his second summit with President Donald Trump in Hanoi next week, state media reported. Source
  • Train possibly taking Kim Jong Un to summit enters China

    World News CTV News
    DANDONG, China -- A train similar to one used in the past by Kim Jong Un entered China on Saturday evening, possibly carrying the North Korean leader on a multiday journey to Vietnam's capital for his summit with U.S. Source
  • 3 Venezuelan soldiers desert post amid border tensions

    World News CBC News
    Three members of the Venezuelan national guard deserted their posts early on Saturday, Colombia's migration agency said, ahead of a planned opposition-led effort to bring aid into the economically devastated county. The soldiers have asked for help from the agency, it said. Source