Canada’s team of ill and injured veterans excelled at the Invictus Games held in May in Orlando, Fla. The 28-member Team Canada, which included five members of the Canadian Armed Forces and 23 veterans, participated in seven adaptive sports, winning 22 medals, including 10 golds.
It was the second outing for the games, founded by Prince Harry and inaugurated in London, England, in 2014. The games use adaptive sports to inspire healing and help change public perceptions of ill and injured veterans.
“Our Invictus athletes are the definition of hard work and determination, and serve as a source of pride for the entire country,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Excitement can now shift to Canada where the games will be played in Toronto in September 2017.
The Royal Canadian Legion is a signature sponsor of the event with a donation of $500,000. “There has been a long tradition of the Legion supporting sports programs,” said Dominion President Tom Eagles. “It is a natural fit and we, as Canada’s largest veterans support and community service organization, intend to fulfil our part to support these games that will see almost 700 ill and injured veterans from around the world participating.”
Athletes from 16 nations are expected to participate in 11 sporting events. Legion members will provide some of the 1,500 volunteers needed to run the event. Legion members will also take part in a torch relay which will stop at 30 Legion branches across Canada before reaching the games.
While some have questioned why the Legion would spend money on the games that could be going to individuals, the donation shows the Legion’s commitment to raising awareness of the issues facing injured veterans and helping them overcome the stigma associated with being ill or injured. For the athletes themselves, the games build self-awareness and raise self-confidence in their ability to overcome the challenges they face every day.
The donation to the games is in keeping with other large donations the Legion has made such as $1 million towards brain-scanning equipment for the Royal Ottawa to study brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder and $500,000 combined with $1.5 million from Ontario Command Poppy Funds for the Leave the Streets Behind program for homeless veterans.
The name says it all. “Invictus” is Latin for “unconquered.” It is also the title of a poem by amputee poet William Ernest Henley. Its last lines are often recited by the athletes:
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Prince Harry should be commended for initiating these games. The Legion should be proud of playing a part in bringing them to Canada.