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

  • Trump's new messenger says briefings back on camera

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump's new communications chief says television cameras will start rolling again in the White House briefing room. Anthony Scaramucci -- the Wall Street financier who joined the administration last week -- tweeted on Monday that "the TV Cameras are back on. Source
  • Duterte vows end to uprising, 'jail or hell' in Philippines drug war

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Monday to continue his bloody war on illegal drugs despite international and domestic criticism and warned that offenders will end up in "jail or hell." In his second state of the nation speech, Duterte also insisted he would not hold peace talks with communist rebels because of continuing attacks. Source
  • Missing teens likely seeking better life: school director

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Six Burundian teenagers who disappeared after an international robotics competition in Washington probably left because life is hard in the East African nation, not because they feared insecurity at home, the director of a school that sent two of the teens said Monday. Source
  • Two 'lucky' boaters charged after rescue from Alta. lake during major storm

    Canada News CTV News
    NORDEGG, Alta. - RCMP have charged two boaters in central Alberta after the pair were rescued from the shore of a remote lake after an intense storm. Mounties say the man and woman went floating in a small rubber boat on Abraham Lake Sunday wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals. Source
  • Senator Murray Sinclair, chair of TRC, named as Thunder Bay police board investigator

    Canada News CBC News
    The Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) announced Monday that it has appointed retired judge and current Senator, the Honourable Murray Sinclair as the independent investigator addressing the commission's concerns over the state of civilian police oversight and public confidence in the delivery of police services in Thunder Bay. Source
  • U.S. maker of panels in London fire says others install them

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- The U.S. company that manufactured panels on a London apartment tower where at least 80 people perished in an inferno has quit selling them for high-rises because it has no control over their installation, a top company executive said Monday. Source
  • Kushner tells Congress there was no collusion with Russia

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner denied Monday that he colluded with Russians in the course of President Donald Trump’s White House bid and declared he has “nothing to hide.” Behind closed doors, Kushner spoke to staff members of the House intelligence committee for nearly three hours at the Capitol, then made a brief public statement back at the White House. Source
  • Publisher withdraws book by Nelson Mandela's doctor amid complaints

    World News CTV News
    JOHANNESBURG -- South African media say a publisher withdrew a book that documents Nelson Mandela's medical treatments following complaints that the book violates doctor-patient confidentiality. Nkosi Mandela, a grandson of the late anti-apartheid leader, president and Nobel laureate, said Monday that the removal from stores of "Mandela's Last Years" showed respect for the family's wishes "to guard the sanctity of his last moments. Source
  • Tourist falls 100 feet to his death taking photos at Glacier National Park

    World News Toronto Sun
    WEST GLACIER, Mont. — Glacier National Park officials say a tourist who was taking photographs of the scenery fell into a creek, was swept into a culvert and plunged 100 feet to his death. Park officials said in a statement Monday that 26-year-old Robert Durbin of Corvallis, Montana, died Saturday. Source
  • Warning: Fake signs about 'easily startled' cops pop up in Minneapolis

    World News Toronto Sun
    MINNEAPOLIS — The fatal shooting of an Australian woman by a Minneapolis police officer has sparked the posting of at least two fake street signs warning people of “easily startled” officers. The Star Tribune reports one sign was spotted in Minneapolis and another in St. Source