Former Yellowknife journalist Jack Danylchuk has been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oaxaca, Mexico and his family has turned to the public for financial help.
Danylchuk needs almost $1,000 a day for medication from doctors, according to his daughter Jacki Danylchuk.
“It’s been really stressful,” she said, “The first week was really bad. It was really hard to reach out to the hospital because of the language barrier and the distance.”
She created a GoFundMe page. As of the morning of Aug. 12, supporters donated more than $13,500 for Jack, leaving Jacki “shocked” by the outpouring of help.
Jack was admitted to hospital on July 21, four days after “he dropped off the internet,” said Jacki. He has a Facebook page that he usually updates every day with pictures, she said.
She started asking around, and the next day she found out that Jack had collapsed and went into a coma. He was intubated until a ventilator became available for him.
His symptoms started to improve on Aug. 10. He is now under light sedation and is starting to be weaned off the ventilator.
His daughter believes there’s a good chance her father will recover from COVID-19. When he’s able to travel once again, his family wants to bring him back to Canada to fully recuperate.
Jack was travelling before the start of the pandemic.
“He is fascinated by cocoa and he went to the jungles of Amazon to try to find a place that he thought cocoa had first been made into chocolate,” Jacki said.
After settling down in Mexico, Jack wanted to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as he could but he was not eligible to get a dose in Mexico, according to his daughter.
“He was upset about that (not getting a vaccine), so he was just trying to be safe and then COVID-19 got him,” she said.
Jack was born in Windsor, Ont. in 1943. He lived in Vancouver before he moved to Edmonton to work for the Edmonton Journal for 20 years. Then he moved to the North and was employed at NNSL Media, EDGE Magazine, CBC North and the Northern Journal at various times over 15 years.
Although unofficially retired, Jack still has a passion for journalism.
“He’s always working on stories,” Jacki said.
Mike Bryant, a former co-worker from NNSL Media, recalls meeting Jack when Jack first came to the North in the early summer in 2002.
He remembers his former colleague giving pointers and always telling young reporters his mantra: anybody, anyplace, anytime and anywhere ask questions.
Richard Gleeson, a reporter from CBC North, noted that Jack wrote many stories about the GNWT, insisting on a free flow of information and proper service to the public.
“The territorial government, in particular, didn’t like him at all,” Gleeson said.
He said Jack was “incredibly fit” well into his 60s, going on frequent dog walks and riding his bicycle 180 km from Yellowknife to Behchoko and back.
He added that the initial impressions that people formed about Jack could be deceiving.
“He is gruff and comes off as being fairly insensitive or abrasive and then he has a really kind heart,” said Gleeson. “One example of his sort of kindheartedness was towards animals.”