Airline comes through as NS man seeks to reunite with critically injured Alberta dad

WATCH ABOVE: A Grande Prairie man is clinging to life in an Edmonton hospital after an assault in northern Alberta this week. As Eric Szeto reports, the public and a national airline have come together to help the family in a time of need. 

WARNING: The pictures in this story may be disturbing to some readers. 

EDMONTON — A Nova Scotia man, whose father was badly beaten in northern Alberta earlier this week, has been given the chance to reunite with his father thanks to WestJet.

Global News

Dakota Mackay says his dad, John St. Jean, was at a Grande Prairie convenience store on Thursday night when he noticed a 10-year-old boy being picked on by a young man.

“My father had witnessed it and piped up and said, ‘Hey, leave the kid alone. It’s just a kid, give him a break,'” Mackay explained.

Mackay’s dad grabbed ahold of the boy and told him to run.

“Before he could turn back around the 24-year-old man attacked him and repeatedly stomped his head in,” said Mackay.

St. Jean was taken to the University of Alberta hospital in Edmonton where he remains on life support.

“As of right now he’s stable. They’ve tried to wake him up a few times but he keeps going into miniature seizures so he’s still on life support. He can’t breathe on his own. There is still a lot of swelling in his brain. There’s no bleeding at this point that they know of, but where his condition stands – he’s still pretty critical,” said Mackay.

The young man was desperate to find a way to get to his father from New Glasgow, N.S., but money is tight, so he took to social media in hopes of raising enough money to buy two plane tickets. He wanted his girlfriend to make the trip as well.

Mackay started a GoFundMe page and people quickly stepped up to help. After being contacted by a stranger, WestJet answered the plea for help.

“WestJet phoned me later that night, yesterday night, and had said we would like to help you. We are going to pay for you and your girlfriend to fly up and see your father,” Mackay said. WestJest also offered to cover any other travel expenses the couple may incur.

Mackay arrived in Edmonton with his girlfriend Saturday morning. And while it’s been a tough few days, he says the incredible rally of support from complete strangers has helped ease his mind.

“You don’t think it’s going to happen. It really made a big difference in what’s taken place and kind of makes it a little easier to know that there’s thousands of people in Grande Prairie right now that are fully behind him,” Mackay explained.

“It’s really terrible, the circumstances that led up to all the support and good things that have come of all of this, but I’m very grateful for what everyone has done.”

Mackay plans to stay in Edmonton for the foreseeable future to help his mom and dad. The GoFundMe page raised $5,300 in the first nine hours, which Mackay says will go towards his dad’s medical bills.

RCMP have confirmed an assault took place in Grande Prairie Thursday just after 9 p.m. Cpl. Leigh Drinkwater says he cannot confirm the circumstances that led to the altercation.

“It appears the 45-year-old male, John St. Jean, was struck repeatedly about the head,” said Drinkwater.

Kyle Douglas Giroux, 24, was taken into custody and charged with one count of aggravated assault and one count of failing to comply with a probation order. The Grande Prairie man is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

WestJet has declined comment on the matter.

Mackay posted the following pictures of his father on the Grande Prairie supports John St. Jean Facebook page.


Pictures on the Grande Prairie supports John Stjean Facebook page show Mackay’s father in hospital.

Credit: Grande Prairie supports John Stjean Facebook page


Pictures on the Grande Prairie supports John Stjean Facebook page show Mackay’s father in hospital.

Credit: Grande Prairie supports John Stjean Facebook page


Dakota Mackay’s father, John Stjean.

Courtesy: Dakota Mackay


Dakota Mackay’s father, John Stjean.

Courtesy: Dakota Mackay

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