The Invictus Games are coming to Toronto Sept. 23 to 30 when the city will host 550 competitors from 17 nations, including Canada. The events will include 12 adaptive sports across all of these venues of the GTA including, for the first time, golf.
The games were awarded to Canada in part through an effort started by True Patriot Love, an organization devoted to helping military men and women and their families. PJ Kwong, Media Relations Coordinator, explained the general set up of the games.
“All of the events have everything you would find at other games, including medal ceremonies, but that’s not what these games are about. They’re about the rehabilitated journey for the wounded and injured military men and women, after service men and women and veterans,” says Kwong.
There will be other activities to participate in around the city during the games, including cultural events, companion events and a multi-faith service. The Royal Ontario Museum will also host a talk on a veterans’ entrance into civilian life, while Nathan Philips Square hosts activities, like wheelchair tennis.
The patron of the games, Prince Harry, hosted the official launch of the Invictus Games in Toronto before taking it to Orlando in its first year. He started the games after being inspired by the US-based Warrior Games.
“He went to the Warrior Games in 2013, which inspired him to start the Invictus Games the following year. He wanted to make it larger and more international, and really a way to have people’s attention focused on the miraculous recovery of so many of these veterans, what this process has meant to them,” says Kwong.
Fern Taillefer, a Veteran Services Officer with Barrie Legion Branch 147 refers to the games as a mini-Olympics for the military.
“I think it’s pretty cool. I think it’s a great thing, it’s a wonderful thing and I think many veterans are going to attend and I’m hoping to attend a few of the games, myself,” he says.
He also expresses admiration for the Prince’s advocacy for veterans around the world and his involvement with the games.
“It’s not just something he’s trying to put on for the Royal Family. This is something serious … I think it’s very gracious of him to do that, and I commend him wholeheartedly for doing that… He wore the uniform and he did the job,” says Taillefer, who after service of 22 years, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Taillefer applied to be a flag runner at the games through the Peacekeeping Association, and in the past ran with a torch at the Winter Olympics and Pan Am Games.
“I understand what that is all about, and feel like part of a global family of veterans,” he says.
“Come out and support your veterans… so now it’s your chance to thank them.”
The opening and closing ceremonies will feature performances by popular and legendary Canadian artists like Bryan Adams, Bachman and Turner, Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara, the Tenors and more.
For information, visit: www.invictusgames2017.com
(Pictured: Members of the Barrie Legion holding up the Invictus Games sign with MP Kellie Leitch)