THE INVICTUS GAMES

TORONTO
2017

 
08/11/2017
The Legacy of Toronto's Invictus Games Will Be Knowledge 
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KJ Mullins:  Empowerment. Drive. Transformation. The 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto has changed the way Canadians view veterans returning to civilian life. Along with a better understanding of how PTSI is a very real issue for our modern day veteran the general public has a greater empathy on the challenges facing these men and women.

Retired Corporal Joel Guindon knows first hand what a huge impact that being part of the Invictus Games can make for wounded veterans. He served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. The high stakes of combat was something that drove Joel on but returning home to Canada revealed how those stresses did damage to his mental health. For years he was a prisoner in his basement, silently fighting the biggest battle of his life-PTSI. He talked about how his life basically stopped in motion during those years during a phone interview. Unable to work because of PTSI he was on a downward spiral and although he didn't think about suicide he says he was "fast forwarding towards dying." His life changed dramatically when he started training for the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. A year later he was a captain for the Canadian team in Toronto. "My life did a complete 180. I am now a great partner to my wife, great father, great son and great friend. Sport made the difference." He saw the difference that the 2017 Invictus Games has made for Canadians as well. He knew that the public was greatly impacted by the competition when he was in Orlando but the "huge impact" it made in Canada was much bigger than he ever expected. There was pride for his nation in his voice as he stated that he has found "Canadians are more emphatic than Americans". Since the Games he has been engaged in moving conversations on the streets of his hometown of Ottawa. People have stopped him when he is wearing his Invictus shirts resulting in "very honest discussions about PSTI. The Games have lifted the stigma." Joel has been amazing strides as he continues to recover from his condition. He is also helping others post Games. Recently he was instrumental in raising funds for a service dog for a team mate, Bruce Matthews. His own service dog may be in the future, when he has the time to do all of the steps needed. Right now his future is bright, a true Invictus Games success story.

How Canadians perceive modern veterans returning to civilian life has been changed after the 2017 Invictus Games. The men and women who serve the nation often have a difficult time when transitioning from service to the work force but many who haven't been in the military did not understand those struggles. The Invictus Games was able to change the way the general public views the real life issues facing our newest veterans in a positive light.

Those in Toronto were very aware of the Invictus Games. Almost everyone who took part in a commissioned survey by Maru/Matchbox for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee shared that they were impacted and gained knowledge of the harsh realities of PTSI and challenges that face wounded veterans.

Prior to the Invictus Games only 34 percent of Canadians were aware of how hard it can be for veterans returning from serving the nation. After the Games in September that number more than doubled.

The numbers show that "clearly here (Canada) we were paid off" said Michael Burns, CEO of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee during a phone interview. "I believe that there has always been a lenient empathy around the country for our veterans. We see it each November around Veteran's Day. Canadians do want to show their gratitude towards those that serve."

Burns was a constant face of support during the Games reaching out to athletes from around the world and their families. "Everyone I spoke to had an incredible experience in Toronto." He said that it is a "testament to how Canadians embraced the athletes. The excitement made everyone feel special." One of the most lasting memories for the athletes came from Toronto's Police Services who provided motorcycle escorts to each of the buses that carried the teams, their families and the media to various venues around the city. Burns said that when the TPS came to the Games and asked if they could help no one knew how strong that the impact would be. "Everyone felt like rock stars and royalty." Those escorts also raised even more awareness on the streets of the city about the Games.

With the Invictus Games going to Sydney, Australia in 2018 Burns knows that the awareness for veterans will continue to make global impact. He is very excited for the renewed public support for veterans and the awareness that Canadians need to make sure addition supports are part in place for our military members.

Burns said that after the Orlando games they found that some of the athletes had a let down period. That awareness lead to the first Alumni program for Canadian team members following the Toronto games that keeps members connected with each other. "We want them to know that they can still be a mentor to others. There is a role for everyone for years to come."

While the Invictus Games is a sporting competition Canadians understood that the true reward was how the athletes and their families were able to overcome their injuries. In Toronto residents became very aware who the Invictus Games can make a significant difference in the lives of veterans with physical and mental injuries. This awareness showed a large increase of support for programs that help our Veterans dealing with any type of injury and stronger support for the Canadian Armed Forces in general.
 




 
02/10/2017
The Last Day 
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KJ Mullins:  The Last Day of The Invictus Games, The First Day of a Movement

On Saturday the third annual Invictus Games closed in Toronto. For a week some of the world's bravest and strongest warriors had walked and wheeled on the streets of Toronto to inspire, conquer and win at the Games. Just making it to the Games was a test of endurance making these men and women true champions before they even heard a starting gun, crossed a finish line or saw the final score for a team event.

In 2014 a soldier started the Invictus Games in London, his vision for an International sporting event that would bring wounded warriors to the fore front for a week. That soldier just happened to be a prince. Prince Harry may have used his status to create the event but the Games wasn't just a whim. He is one of the few royals to actually be on the battle field. He knows first hand what it is like to fear that a bullet could have his name on it. His words during the Games were always heart felt and real. During his closing remarks, Prince Harry commended the host city: "You have delivered the biggest Invictus Games yet, with the most incredible atmosphere, making our competitors feel like the stars they are."

The closing ceremony was a star studded event. Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Kelly Clarkson, Coeur de pirate and Bachman & Turner each performed with gusto. Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau spoke leaving Canadians proud of our Prime Minister's wife. “We know that no one leaves a battlefield unchanged, and that not all scars can be seen. Asking for help when you have physical and mental injuries, that’s hard for everyone. But it’s especially tough for people like you who have dedicated your lives to helping others.”

The true stars though were the Warriors.

Team UK competitor Mark Ormond was presented with the Jaguar Award for Exceptional Performance, for displaying true determination and dedication throughout Games week and beyond. Those who witnessed Ormond in action will forever be changed by his smile and his power.

The Land Rover Above and Beyond Award, judged on sportsmanship, commitment to the Games and demonstration of an inspiring example of the Invictus Spirit, was given to Team Afghanistan. Knowing the dangers that these men took on just to compete last week is incredible.

For me one of the most inspiring minutes of the Games was watching Canada's Bruce Matthews take the Gold in power rowing. This quiet gentle giant is a power horse.

The 1,427 volunteers that worked 80,000 hours to ensure that the Games went off without a hitch are to be thanked.

14 service dogs brought comfort and guided their owners throughout the Games.

Over 75,000 people witnessed acts of bravery and amazing sport.

CEO of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee Michael Burns said, "There were so many incredible moments. One competitor gave his gold medal to the family of a fallen comrade. The men and women who helped their fellow competitors across the finish line, and the children who ran to their parent on the podium. All of these incredible moments have changed Canada and the way we think about wounded warriors. The Games have united us in a positive and very powerful way."

And now a new week comes. It's time for us to take the lessons learned from last week and put them into action. To remember those who protect and serve us, to look for the heroes who need a hand up and to take their inspiration into our own lives to be the best that we can be. I Am is more than a saying from a week of sport, I Am is a way of life.


 
30/09
Day Seven of the Invictus Games
 
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Finals
 Archery

Team Open Compound Final Gold

4 Canada

Women's Novice Recurve

1 Elizabeth Newman
2 Melissa Smith

Team Novice Recurve

3 Canada

Women's Open Compound

3-Bettina Fuchs
4-Melanie Harris


Swimming

Women's ISC 50m Freestyle

1-Mireille Poulin
3-Denise Hepburn

Women's ISC 50m Backstroke

2-Mireille Poulin
3-Denise Hepburn

Women's ISD 50m Backstroke

3-Kelly Scanlan

Women's ISC 50m Breaststroke

1-Mireille Poulin
3-Denise Hepburn

Women's ISD 50m Breaststroke

1-Kelly Scanlan

Women's ISC 100m Freestyle

1-Mireille Poulin
3-Denise Hepburn

 
KJ Mullins:  Volunteering At the Invictus Games

You will never see a frown. These smiling helping angels are ready with an encoraging word, helpful directions or just a hug when times are trying.

During the past week there have been a sea of yellow shirts. The men and women of this team are not athletes, they don't represent any one nation but they are the heart of the Invictus Games. They are the volunteers.

Why would a person spend thousands of dollars to travel to a location in order to work slave hours, have little personal time and pay for all of their own expenses? For an Invictus Games volunteer the answer is simple-they are in the presense of greatness every step of the way.

These men and women are exhausted today, the last day of the games but most are ready to sign up to travel to Sydney to do it again next year.

Volunteers don't get a free ride. They pay for every step of their journey other than a meal during their shifts. Those meals are good but not fine dining. (Last night there was a chicken leg, potatoes and coleslaw) They may stay at the same hotel as the teams but only if they can afford that room. Many of the volunteers have been involved for years and may share a place with others. Local volunteers also have put up some of their peers in their own homes to help with expenses.

Not one of the volunteers I spoke with would not be part of the games. Most have volunteered in other para sporting events to help those that inspire so many around the world. They all say that they get so much more than they give. Considering that they give their all, that is saying a lot.

To be part of the next Invictus Games you need to be signing up soon. The spots are coveted and filled quickly.


 
28/09
Day Six of the Invictus Games
 
Finals
 Wheelchair Rugby

GOLD Denmark
SILVER United Kingdom
BRONZE Australia

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KJ Mullins:  Canada is Making Sure Military Personnel Make A Smoother Transition Out of the Service


Leaving the Canadian Forces can be a scary time for veterans and the Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs has started to make that adjustment easier with g a new initiative to support post-military employment.

Today was the first day of the The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Veterans Career Summit. Twenty of Canada's leading corporate offices are looking to hire veterans. The summit is a first step in connecting veterans with the type of jobs that they have been trained to do while in the service.

Darian Rich, Executive Vice-President, Talent Management, Barrick Gold Corp is proud of the men and women veterans in his company. That is way Barrick Gold is sponsoring the Career Summit. "After the Games the challenge is still there. We want to send a very clear message that you are not alone." Rich said that Barrick Gold is compelled to help service veterans who have put service before self, this is not just to help the veterans-it's to help make the company thrive. "We want to hire more veterans to make us a better company."

At the launch Honourable Seamus O’Reagan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate, Minister of National Defence spoke about his struggle with alcoholism. He has been sober for two years and knows just how important it is to have a job with purpose to deal with the next stage of his life, just as those leaving the military need to have that purpose to transition smoothly. One of the ways that the government will be working on this is by helping members of the Armed Forces translate their skill sets into more corporate terms. Currently the language of the military doesn't translate well with corporate Canada. Another way is to teach veterans how to 'brag' about those skill sets so they can land the best jobs. "This is insider information no charity," O'Reagan stressed.

Major General Wayne Eyre, Deputy Commander of Military Personnel Command said of the summit that it will help veterans "move forward with purpose." He added that today's Canadian Forces is working to make sure that veterans have a more seamless transition by forming a new transition group. This group is working hand and hand with Veteran Affairs for those nearing the end of their service.

Michael Burns, CEO of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee closed the press conference for the summit saying he was excited about the new programs that will help veterans "navigate the choppy waters" as they transition into civilian life. He is delighted that over the next two days veterans will have the chance to see some of the nation's best companies who are looking to hire them. Burns told the audience, "you are going to see what the next chapter of your life" will look like.
 


 
27/09 Day Five of the Invictus Games
 
Finals for Team Canada

Sitting Volleyball

1- Georgia
2-UK
3-USA
4-Denmark

Cycling

Women's Road Cycling IRB1/IRB2 Criterium
2 Julie Nadeau

Men's Handcycling IHB1 Criterium

8-Michael Clarke

Women's Recumbent Bike IRECB1 Criterium

2-Julie Marcotte

Men's Tandem ITB1 Criterium

2-Lutz Stelzner

Women's Road Cycling IRB3 Criterium

2-Mireille Poulin
6-Katherine Heath
9-Tracy Howlett-Cooney
10-Cheryl Bush
11-Isabelle Rouleau
13-Isabelle Boutin





 

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KJ Mullins:  The Art of Warriors


One of the things you notice about the Invictus Games Warriors is that many are walking art. Tattoos cover many of those who have served their nations. The artful ink is a living testament for some of the battles they fought on and off of the battlefield. 90 percent of the US military has a tattoo.

Ink can many many things for veterans. These symbols can tell the story of a soldiers life, of the losses they have dealt with and of the love they have for their homeland.

Tats can come from all over. They can be a road of different stations. Tattooing goes back to ancient times, Vikings were notorious for having graphics decorate their bodies.

The Romans are responsible for strict rules for tattoos on soldiers. In 787 Pope Hadrian prohibited all forms of tattooing citing Leviticus 19:28 –

"Ye shall not make cuttings on your flesh (body) on account of a soul, i.e., a dead person equals, Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6, or Deuteronomy 14:1; so again in Leviticus 22:4; Numbers 5:2; Numbers 9:6-7, Numbers 9:10), nor make engraven (or branded) writing upon yourselves."

Tattoos in the modern American military has many regulations. From what is allowed to where it is allowed, active members of the service must follow the rules when it comes to ink. Depending on the branch of service they are in a soldier who doesn't follow those regulations they can face administrative separation proceedings. The Navy is one of the most libel of the branches. In 2016 they relaxed most of the rules allowing neck tattoos, sleeves and even markings behind their ears. The one no rule is the face.

The warriors at the Invictus Games are no longer active duty so the rules are not in play. They now are free to have body art to tell the world their personal story without have to voice it. Their bodies are living canvases that show their life in bold colour.

And their art is beautiful!​ 



 
26/09 Day Four of the Invictus Games
 
Finals for Team Canada

Men's Golf

Etienne Aube-2
Dan Graham-3
Jay Nickol-3

Women's Golf

Karyne Gelinas-2
Sandy Bate-3
Martine Duval-4

Indoor Rowing

Men's IR1 Four Minute Endurance
Michael Trauner-1

Men's IR5 Four Minute Endurance
Bruce Matthews-GOLD

Men's IR5 Four Minute Endurance
Dwayne Thorpe-12

Men's IR1 One Minute Sprint
Michael Trauner-GOLD


Women's IR5 Four Minute Endurance

Caroline Cauvin-3

Women's IR5 One Minute Sprint

Caroline Cauvin-BRONZE





 

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KJ Mullins:   Heroes In The Office

 
For some veterans the hardest time in their lives isn't on the battle field, it's that time when they have finished their military careers and are trying to get a job in the civilian world. Those qualities that make for the best soldiers may not be the ones that the corporate world thinks they want- but they'd be wrong.

Going into a battle situation soldiers are trained to do their jobs without having to constantly ask for directions. Time is of the essence and know how is how to stay alive when bullets are whizzing past your head.

In the civilian world bosses can feel like these can do men and women will take their jobs. There is a bit of truth to that reality, these people get the job done, often with less outside help. They can 'show up' their supervisors, not because they are trying to but just because they have been trained to always be on top of things.

This is something Retired L.Col. David Quick understands well. One of the founders of the veteran charity True Patriot Love, Quick had to enter the civilian world before he wanted to. Medically discharged from the military after being injuries by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2007 Quick hit a low period in his life. He had been in charge of 400 men and women at the time of his injury. Then in the blink of an eye he was dealing with chronic pain, a divorce and a traumatic brain injury.

He overcame. Today Quick is a partner in Pathfinder Leadership Associates. His Linked-In profile says it all:

An accomplished executive with over 25 years of experience leading and managing military, civilian, multinational and education units and teams. Proven operational and tactical planning, organization development and change management skills that are combined with collaborative, compassionate and inspirational leadership that drives exceptional unit performance. Known to lead from the front in all that he does and respected for his intellect, courage, balanced approach and motivational strengths.

He sees others having a much harder time transitioning from their military lives to a civilian. He believes that the military needs to work on changing their language slightly for those leaving the force. What works well in the military doesn't always translate into the civilian world.

On Tuesday evening Quick spoke at the ROM as part of the ROM Speaks program. His session, The Next Fire Fight: Transitioning out of Uniform didn't give all the answers. One of those is for corporate leaders to seek former military personnel out for higher positions.

At the end of his talk he urged those in those higher position to be part of the change. During a week where veterans across the world have gathered in Toronto for the Invictus Games this message is timely.

Those who risk their lives to serve their country deserve to have a country that will help them excel when their tours are over.
 


 
25/09 Day Three of the Invictus Games
 
Finals for Team Canada

Men's IF5 Discus

15 David Dejardins

Women's IF4 Shotput

17 Brenda McPeak

Men's IT1 100m

5 Blaise Lapointe

Women's IT6/IT7 100m

1 Natacha Dupuis
8 Helene Le Scelleur

Men's IF6 Discus

3 Kevin Nanson

Men's IT1 200m

4 Blaise Lapointe

Men's IT1 1500m

6 Blaise Lapointe

Men's IT2 1500m

4 Simon Mailous

Men's IT5 1500m

2 Michael Clarke

Women's IT2/IT7 1500m

4 Helene Le Scelleur
5 Brenda McPeak
8 Adrienne Stickley

Men's IT7 1500m

9 Gorden Boivin
10 Jeremy Meyer
18 Pearce Bourassa

Men's IT1 400m

7 Blaise Lapointe

Men's IT2 400m

Simon Mailoux

Women's IT7 400m

1 Natacha Dupuis
5 Helene Le Scelleur
7 Adrienne Stickley

Men's IF4 Discus

2 Bruce Matthews

Mixed 4x100m Relay

4 Canada


Women's Heavyweight

1 Krista Seguin
2 Jackie Buttnor
7 Jennifer Alexander



 

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KJ Mullins:   The Forgotten

As the Invictus Games shines a light on the military we have to remember not everyone is reached. Across Canada veteran homelessness is an issue that is being worked on. In 2014 2.2% of those using shelter beds were veterans. Almost all of the estimated 2,950 were male and of the females over half were under the age of 30.

Veterans in the shelter system tend to be older than the average user. The average age is 52 and they had been out of the service for around a decade. Mental health issues and addictions were the main reasons they listed for losing their homes and having to live on the street. In studies on homeless vets there is a large incident of family breakdowns and a lack of housing being why they end up in a shelter.

The problem is even larger in the United States with 11.3% of those without homes having served in the military. In Australia veterans make up 3% of the homeless population.

Canada is working to end veteran homelessness. There is funding with the Legend to help those on the street find housing and provide emergency funds. For those dealing with mental health issues there are additional beds in treatment centers.

If you know a person who served in Canada who is living on the street have them contact their local Veterans Affairs Canada branch.



 
24/09 Day Two of the Invictus Games
 
 
On Sunday the action at the Invictus Games was at York University for Athletics and Nathan Phillips Square for wheelchair tennis.

Finals Results for Canada:

Men's IF1 Shotput - Final

4 Blaise Lapointe

Men's IF5 Shotput - Final

15 David Desjardins

Men's IF4 Shotput - Final

2 Bruce Matthews

Men's IF6 Shotput - Final

2 Kevin Nanson

Men's IT5 200m - Final

2 Michael Clarke

Men's IT5 100m - Final

3 Michael Clarke
6 Chris Klodt

Men's IT4 400m - Final

5 Kevin Nanson

Men's IT5 400m - Final

1 Michael Clarke

Women's IF4 Discus - Final

13 Brenda McPeak
16 Jessica Rose​ 
 

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KJ Mullins:   Survival.

For soldiers every day can be a test of survival. Being on task for the challenges of the day. Being aware of your surroundings. Trusting your fellow soldiers to be as prepared as you are. Strong and determined soldiers face the challenges that are in front of them head on, giving it their all.

When a warrior is wounded survival takes on a new meaning. For so many it's a life and death struggle to make it to the operation room. Staying alive in those first hours may seem to be the hardest part. It's not. The medical side of things are just the first step into a new journey.

For the luckiest a wound isn't the end of their military career. After time off for recovery they are back in action doing the job that they were trained to do.

For the unlucky their lives are forever changed. Past the recovery time in hospital and rehabs a new battle is about to be fought. One that will prove to be the hardest one yet......and they are not alone in that battle. Their families now have to be the soldier that rallies their warrior. To help the person who is used to being brave and strong.

Some can't make it through. Too many of our bravest can't face their new life. They would rather end it all than to be what they consider less than whole. Some families also can't handle the stress of the situation and break up.

But there is always hope. The Invictus Games is a huge leap of faith, perseverance and hope. The hope that one day the broken soldier will be a warrior on a new battlefield, one where they will test their self against others who know their battle. One where they will be victorious.

To these men and women the victory isn't about winning the Games, it's about getting to a place in themselves to get to the Games. For these warriors winning is being on the starting line. Medals are just a bonus.
 
23/09 Day One of the Invictus Games
 
 

Notes Along The Way
 
"We can't do this without the volunteers."-Michael Burns

"The world of adaptive sports is out there for everyone."-Melanie Harris

"You will be inspired. These Games aren't about making it to the finish line, it's about making it to the starting line."-Michael Burns
 
 

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KJ Mullins:  Michael Burns, CEO for Invictus Games Toronto, started the day with important information about a soon to be released research study on the effects of the Invictus Games. Future games will be using the results of this study to make sure that warriors get the most benefit from the competition. One of the areas that is already being improved deals with follow-up care. For the 550 athletes that are competing this study will prove to be very important.

The Games aren't just for the warriors, the family of soldiers also deal with trauma. During the games there is a lot of focus on the entire family unit and soldier's support systems.

Mike Myers knows what it is to be a family member. Both of his parents were in the British military. He was very emotional as he spoke about being the Ambassador for the Games. His mother passed away in March and her memory was very present today. He admitted that with 3 kids under the age of 6 that he doesn't do many events but the Invictus Games are different. "Those who serve our country deserve the ultimate respect."

Retired Corporal Melanie Harris, Team Canada, said that some athletes had a hard time following the Games in Orlando. Canada is already putting together an alumni group to counter this.

Harris, a 20 year vet, went on her first tour to Kandahar in 2008 as a supply tech. One of her jobs was being a stretcher bearer, helping to transport wounded soldiers to hospital. During her 3 tours she was very proud of doing that service. But carrying her brothers and sisters in arms took a heavy toll. She was diagnosed with PTSD and started a hard journey to wellness. "I still see some of the injuries of my fellow soldiers," Harris said, adding that the Invictus Games has inspired her. Too many soldiers have committed suicide she related, knowing the personal battle with PTSD. "The shame of PTSD isolates you. To be able to share the journeys allows the message of that it will get better to get out in a positive way."

On the first day of the Invictus Games saw Team Canada tackling the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge. At this first competitive event at the 2017 Games, pairs of drivers from each nation will test their communication, team-work and strategic skills in the agility driving challenge. Canada will be competing against 11 other countries for gold, including Estonia, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Georgia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, UK and USA. Drivers Martine Duval and Steve Murgatroyd will be represent Canada.

Wheelchair tennis prelims also take place at Nathan Phillips Square.

As the Warriors marched into the Air Canada Centre for the opening ceremony 17 men and women were proudly bearing the flags for their nations:


























































Performers included The Tenors, Alessia Cara, La Bottine Souriante and Sarah McLachlan along with military bands from Canada.

Canada's Man Of Motion Rick Hansen gave a moving speech before Captain Trevor Greene came to the stage. Greene shouldn't be alive. He was brutally attacked by a member of the Taliban during a meeting with locals in Afghanistan. Just prior to the attack in a show of trust Greene had laid down his weapon. Moments later a Taliban fighter hit him in the head with an axe. He was rushed to hospital where doctors didn't expect him to live. He astonished everyone but at a huge cost. Today he is bound to a wheelchair and struggles with depression and PTSD but with support he has once again become a warrior, this time in sport.

Prince Harry joined Greene on stage. where he said he was driven to create an expanded international version following his inspirational visit to the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013. There, he saw how the power of sport could help wounded warriors physically, psychologically and socially. The Prince spoke at the opening ceremony of the courage and honour he has witnessed from the troops. He said that his life changed as he made his way back to the UK from his first service. On the plane were warriors badly wounded and those who had paid the ultimate price for serving their country. He knew then that he would have to find a way to serve these brave men and women. In 2014 his vision became reality when the first Invictus Games was hosted in London. Last year the second Games took place in Orlando. This year Toronto is proud to host the third instalment of the Invictus Games.
 
 




The Day Before The Invictus Games Begin
22/09/2017
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KJ Mullins: The Warriors are in town. As the clock ticked down to the start of the 3rd Invictus Games Toronto has been invaded with a band of brothers (and sisters) who collectively will be showing us and the world what bravery is all about. This soldiers, all wounded, have braved the fire to come out as victors. On Saturday the competitions will begin but on Friday they gathered to cheer on each other as the Invictus Games was brought to Nathan Phillips Square where it will fly for the coming week.

The rigours of war, brave men and women left battlefields away and at home with more than missing limbs-their spirits lay waiting to be restored in the puddles of blood. These Games are a start to healing the souls of warriors. Where once again they fight strong for their nations but this time as brothers and sisters in arms. The war is over, now is the time for victories and humanity to reign.

Friday the growing excitement was boundless at the Sheraton Hotel across from Nathan Phillips Square, athlete central. Notables from Canada like Pinball Clemons are just as excited, ready to witness the power of sport. The end of the nation wide tour that began on August 16th in Victoria came today as the Flag entered Nathan Phillips Square. The banner of the Games had travelled to 22 military bases, 15 Legions and 50 communities. Flag barriers ranged from ordinary people to heroes like Rick Hansen and Clemons.

Tickets to the sporting events are almost totally sold out. The stands will be filled with crowds ready to see warriors raising to levels that almost seem impossible. Get ready Toronto, the Games are on.
 




 

Notes Along The Way

Along with the athletes is a heavy police presence making sure that the Games will be safe for everyone in the city.

A huge trend from the Games is bright multi-coloured hair. Every colour from the rainbow is visible in the crowds.

Toronto is getting rave reviews so far from the athletes. As a group of UK archers said the people of the city are amazing.

So many young adults with amputations....so many sacrifices for freedom.
 

Ministers of Veterans Affairs and National Defence Wish Athletes Good Luck at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017
21/09/2017
The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence wished Team Canada and all athletes good luck this week at the Invictus Games in Toronto:

"Canada is proud to be hosting the Invictus Games in Toronto this year. The athletes are inspiring examples of the breadth, depth and unconquerable nature of the human spirit.

"As Ministers of Veterans Affairs and National Defence, we are honoured to attend the Invictus Games and witness first-hand the courage, resilience and athleticism of the women and men who serve and have served their countries.

"You are all incredible athletes, and your true victory will come the moment you begin the competition. Simply getting to the Games is the work of a champion. You have trained so hard for this moment, appreciate it and know that all nations are cheering you on.

"We look forward to meeting athletes from all nations and celebrating your perseverance. We can all draw inspiration from your courage and ability to overcome.

"The best of luck to all athletes and we look forward to seeing you at the Games!"






Faith Leaders Come Together To Pay Tribute to Warrior's Spirtual Journey's Ahead of The Invictus Games
20/09/2017
 KJ Mullins-Toronto: On Tuesday evening faith leaders from across Toronto gathered at St. James Cathedral to usher to pay tribute to service members’ spiritual values. The goal of the event was to promote peace and harmony for the city, the warriors and the Invictus Games.

Cat Criger, Traditional Indigenous Aboriginal Elder in Residence at the University of Toronto's Mississauga Campus performed a smudging to begin the night. During his blessing he spoke as to how the warriors that will be competing in Toronto as part of the Games were snakes. For the First Nations people being called a snake is not an insult, rather it is the act of shedding one's skin, peeling away the scars of their wounds and emerging victorious and new.

Stéphane Moreau, Leading Seaman (Retired), Team Canada Alumnus, Invictus Games 2014 and 2016 said that a training exercise in 2004 resulted in a battle of PTSD. "The event pushed me back to my roots," Moreau said of his journey of healing and a restoration of his own personal faith. "The road to recovery has been long and painful."

CEO Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee Michael Burns gave a moving address about how faith can heal. Saying that the celebration of how faith, the power of religion to comfort and how religions honour those who serve as warriors for their nations add to a "deep connection between religion and the military."

At times faith is the cause of the injuries, battles fought over religion Burns said. On the battle field religious leaders tend to the spiritual needs of warriors, no matter their personal religious belief. These spiritual guides help warriors find the hope to survival when they are cut down. There is no single path, no one journey when it comes to the faiths of our warriors. "Toronto stands as an example for the world of how we live in perfect harmony with all of our diversities."

The religious leaders included The Very Reverend Andrew Asbil, Rector of the Cathedral Church of St. James and Dean of Toronto, Brigadier General (Padre) Father Guy Chapdelaine, Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces, Imam Shaykh Imran Ally, Official Imam and Shaykh Scholar-In-Residence, TARIC Islamic Centre Chaplain, Peel Regional Police, Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Reverend Bhante Saranapala, The Urban Buddhist Monk and Global Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, The Reverend Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, The Canadian Council of Churches, The Reverend David R. Wells, Sports Chaplaincy Canada and Rabbi Sean Gorman, Lieutenant Commander, Chaplain Corps, USA Navy Pride of Israel Synagogue. Each leader spoke of harmony, grace and how faith can heal a wounded soldier's soul.

Iman Ally spoke about his young son, 13, who has struggled during his life because of birth defeats. The Iman said that those struggles helped teach him the importance of the bonds of support structures needed to heal saying, "As your brother in humanity I wish you peace and tranquility."

Kirkpatrick said that the moments that we will be seeing during the Invictus Games of warriors overcoming all odds are gifts and that the Games will bring us a glimpse of glory.

The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Established by Prince Harry, the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014; the second, and equally successful, Games took place in Orlando in May 2016. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee is tasked with planning and executing a Games that will feature more than 550 competitors from 17 nations participating in 12 adaptive sports, including, for the first time, golf. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 will capture the imaginations of the Canadian public, corporations and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans and their families. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto as well as Presenting Partner Jaguar Land Rover and other partners and sponsors.

The Invictus Games will begin in Toronto on Friday, Sept 23.
 





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Open Streets TO and the Invictus Games National Flag Tour Come Together
12/09/2017
Open Streets TO is back this Sunday with some very special guests. Open Streets TO, the largest free recreation program of its kind in Canada, is proud to welcome the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 to the festivities this weekend. Torontonians will get a chance to see the Invictus Games National Flag Tour up close and personal on iconic Yonge and Bloor streets, without car traffic.

The Invictus Games are an international, adaptive sporting event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or ill service members and veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and indoor rowing. The inaugural Games took place in London in 2014, followed by Orlando, Florida, in 2016 and Toronto will be hosting this year's Games, beginning on September 23rd.

"The Invictus Games National Flag Tour is an opportunity to unite the hearts and minds of Canadians and raise awareness for our ill and injured servicemen, women and veterans," said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017. "We are thrilled to be a part of Open Streets TO and believe this Sunday's program will help celebrate the Invictus spirit in downtown Toronto."

The full Open Streets TO route will run along Bloor Street from Christie to Sherbourne, and along Yonge Street from Bloor to Queen. The program begins at 10:00 am and ends at 2:00 pm.

This Sunday's instalment of Open Streets TO will feature the most extensive programming to date, including a celebration of Ontario's 150th birthday through a showcase of many diverse forms of cultural dance represented by Ontarians. The dedicated space, at Yonge and Bloor, will feature dance performances and mini lessons throughout the day from groups representing Peruvian, Latvian, Azerbaijani, Albanian and Chinese communities.

Other 'Activity Hubs' will be placed throughout the full length of the route, hosted by local businesses and organizations, and inviting Torontonians to participate. Some organizations involved this Sunday include Live Green Toronto, lululemon athletica, Toronto Animal Services, the Native Youth Resource Centre and the Royal Conservatory of Music.

"Open Streets has seen tremendous support from both the city and the community," said Alyssa Bird, Co-Chair, Open Streets TO. "Our stellar programming lineup provides a vital step towards our vision of a truly expansive community-oriented recreation program, accessible to everyone who lives in and around Toronto."

Open Streets TO is inspired by a world-class program proven to positively impact healthy behaviour by repurposing existing public assets - namely our iconic streets - and providing access to free recreation space. Major global cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Mexico City, have launched open streets programs in recent years. In 2016, more than 75,000 Torontonians attended Open Streets TO over two days.






"Open Streets TO has allowed us to join the ranks of a global active and healthy city movement," said Kristyn Wong-Tam, Councillor, Ward 27. "Community, connectivity and healthy living are all key components of our Open Streets. I enthusiastically welcome the expansion of this year's program."

For more information visit www.openstreetsto.org.

Canadian Legend Mike Myers announced as Official Ambassador to Invictus Games Toronto 2017
06/09/2017
Legendary Canadian actor, author, director, and multi-faceted creator Mike Myers, OC was announced today as an Official Ambassador to the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, presented by Jaguar Land Rover. The Scarborough, Ontario native’s connection to the military runs deep as the son of Alice and Eric Myers who served in the Royal Air Force and British Army respectively.

“I am thrilled to be able to participate in an active role at the Invictus Games, taking place in the city where I grew up,” said Mike Myers. “The military background of my parents, who both served in Britain, makes this a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I am so honoured to be part of a Games where the focus is on supporting active service members and veterans who have given so much to their countries.”

In 2016, Myers appeared in support of the Invictus Games in Orlando. While there, he spoke passionately about the importance of generating a wider understanding and respect for servicemembers and their families and caregivers.

During the 2017 Invictus Games Opening Ceremony, Myers will be delivering an inspiring tribute to the host nation, Canada. He will also be participating in the official Games Opening press conference on September 23.

“I can’t think of a bigger champion of Canada, the City of Toronto and our military than Mike Myers,” said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017. “He’s a great talent and passionate about caring for our ill, injured and wounded warriors. He’s going to help us shine a bright spotlight on all the heroes and their families at the Invictus Games.”

 An Official Ambassador program is a long-standing tradition with international multi-sport Games.  Having the support of some of the world’s leading voices infuses excitement into the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. Leaders across many fields including, entertainment, science, business, and social media have stepped up to show they #RiseTogether with our wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers and veterans.

“As presenting partner of the Invictus Games, Jaguar Land Rover is grateful to Mike Myers, a proud Canadian and all of the ambassadors, for their support of the Games,” said Wolfgang Hoffmann, President, Jaguar Land Rover Canada.

Myers will help kick off the Games during the Opening Ceremony at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, September 23. The Ceremony will feature musical performances by Alessia Cara, The Tenors, Sarah McLachlan, La Bottine Souriante and Laura Wright, also an Official Ambassador to the Games.

About the Invictus Games Toronto 2017
The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Established by Prince Harry, the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014; the second, and equally successful, Games took place in Orlando in May 2016. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee is tasked with planning and executing a Games that will feature more than 550 competitors from 17 nations participating in 12 adaptive sports, including, for the first time, golf. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 will capture the imagination of the Canadian public, corporations, and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans and their families. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 are funded by the Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, City of Toronto as well as Presenting Partner Jaguar Land Rover and other partners and sponsors.






“As someone with personal experience in both sport and disability, it will be great to see athletes’ abilities on display at the upcoming Invictus Games in Toronto," said the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.  "It is terrific to see Mike Myers, a true Canadian talent, announced as an official ambassador for the Games. With his and other prominent names supporting and spreading awareness for the Invictus Games, I know the Games will be a tremendous success and will celebrate these athletes’ abilities and past military service. Let’s all #RiseTogether in Toronto to support all of the inspiring athletes of the Invictus Games!”-

The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
 “We’re thrilled to have a well-known Ontario-born actor as part of the 2017 Invictus Games Ambassador line-up," said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. "Mike Myers continues to make Ontario proud and I admire his commitment to supporting the Games and showcasing the power of sport. I look forward to watching an exciting week of competition and honouring the dedication and strength of the service members and veterans.” -

​Eleanor McMahon, Province of Ontario,  Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport
Kwittken Appointed as Communications Agency for National Flag Tour of Invictus Games Toronto 2017
05/09/2017
 Kwittken, an MDC Partners Inc. agency, recently announced that it is the public relations and communications agency for the National Flag Tour of Invictus Games Toronto 2017, ultimately bringing the spirit of the Games to all Canadians from coast-to-coast.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 National Flag Tour started in Victoria, British Columbia in mid August and will travel as far east as Gander, Newfoundland, vising 22 military bases, 15 legions and over 50 communities who have been a part of Canada's rich 150-year history. Kwittken is responsible for securing pre-event media coverage and managing all on-site media relations.

"At the heart of the National Flag Tour of Invictus Games is the unconquerable spirit of our wounded warriors," said Steve Wallace, Chief Marketing Officer, Invictus Games Toronto 2017. "We needed an agency that could really bring our competitors' stories to life and garner front-page coverage, while drumming up excitement for the Games as we travel across the country on this 37-day journey. Kwittken has demonstrated that they have both the passion and media relationships to help us achieve our communications goals."

Established by Prince Harry and now in its third installment, the Invictus Games, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will be hosted in venues across Toronto from September 23 to 30, 2017.

"Kwittken is equally honoured and excited to be a part of Invictus Games Toronto 2017," said Betsy Cooper, Managing Director of Kwittken Canada. "Working with the Invictus Games brand is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and carries with it a great responsibility."

Added Cooper: "Media have been extremely receptive to the narrative around the power of sport, and how it's used to transform empathy into empowerment."

This latest win adds to an already impressive third year for Kwittken Canada, which includes a number of significant recent new client wins. Kwittken's expansion into Canada in 2014 was motivated by the great growth potential in the market from both Canadian companies as well as existing US clients looking for support in the region.

About the Invictus Games Toronto 2017

The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Established by Prince Harry, the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014; the second, and equally successful, Games took place in Orlando in May 2016. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee is tasked with planning and executing a Games that will feature 550 competitors, from 17 nations participating in 12 adaptive sports, including, for the first time, golf.The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 will capture the imaginations of the Canadian public, corporations and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans and their families. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto as well as Presenting Partner Jaguar Land Rover and other partners and sponsors. For more information, please visit to purchase tickets, visit www.invictusgames2017.com.

National Flag Tour partners include Canadian Armed Forces, Veteran Affairs Canada, BMO Bank of Montreal, Jaguar Land Rover, President's Choice, The Royal Canadian Legion and Via Rail.





About Kwittken

Kwittken is a global communications agency that combines design thinking with the most impactful elements of PR, influencer engagement, social and digital media and content marketing. A multi-specialist agency serving clients across dozens of industry sectors, Kwittken's Toronto office works with clients such as American Express, Amway, Bushnell, DIALOG, Hisense, Leesa Sleep, and Orangetheory Fitness.

Headquartered in New York City with offices in Toronto and London, Kwittken has been a part of the MDC Partners network since 2010. For more information, visit kwittken.com.
Special performance by Bruce Springsteen added to star-studded Closing Ceremony of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017
28/08/2017
Bruce Springsteen is making a much-anticipated return to Toronto on September 30 to perform at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Closing Ceremony, presented by Jaguar Land Rover and the Government of Canada. Springsteen’s performance will honour the achievements of the 550-plus wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from 17 nations during the third edition of the Invictus Games. Tickets for the Closing Ceremony start at $60 and are available through the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 website.
“At the Invictus Games, it’s not just about the hurdles that competitors experienced during competition, but about overcoming the obstacles that life has presented them,” said Springsteen. “The Games are a remarkable opportunity for brothers and sisters in arms to join forces and demonstrate the true strength of their spirit. It is an absolute honour and privilege to perform for them at the Closing Ceremony as a send-off to a week of competition in Toronto.”

The Grammy award-winning artist will join Bryan Adams, Bachman & Turner, Kelly Clarkson and Coeur de pirate on stage at the Closing Ceremony. On September 23, Canadian sensations Alessia Cara, Sarah McLachlan, La Bottine Souriante and The Tenors will perform at the Games Opening Ceremony.

“Talk about closing the Games with a bang! We couldn’t be more thrilled that the iconic Bruce Springsteen is joining an already outstanding lineup of Closing Ceremony talent,” said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee. “We wanted to deliver memories from these Games in Toronto, and this represents the culmination of two years of planning and work.”

The Closing Ceremony will be broadcast live on CTV and will mark the Games’ conclusion after seven days of inspirational competition. The 2017 Invictus Games will feature a dozen adaptive sports in state-of-the-art venues throughout Toronto. Toronto is playing host to more than 550 competitors from 17 nations, including 90 competitors from Canada.


“I invite everyone to attend the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, which are sure to be spectacular,” said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “The celebrations surrounding the competitions will be just as memorable for the spectators as the athletes, as they are a golden opportunity to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have shown exceptional determination and perseverance. Let’s support these admirable athletes and their families!”


Bruce Springsteen to perform at Air Canada Centre on September 30, along with Bryan Adams, Bachman & Turner, Kelly Clarkson and Coeur de pirate
Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be a rare opportunity for spectators to experience how passion for sport, the lustre of ceremony and national pride intersect, while demonstrating their support for those who are currently serving or have served their country. 

 “The fact that such an incredible performer like Bruce Springsteen will be here in Toronto to support our wounded warriors shows the impact these Games have,” said Wolfgang Hoffmann, President, Jaguar Land Rover Canada.  “It underlines even further our great pride to be involved as the presenting partner.”

“Ontario is delighted to play host to the Invictus Games and the Closing Ceremonies are sure to be an unforgettable experience,” said Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario. “This lineup of incredible talent is sure to give the athletes and volunteers the celebration they deserve after an exciting week of competition. Across Ontario, we are gearing up to welcome guests from around the world for this event. We are immensely proud to showcase our beautiful province to these heroes and their supporters. I look forward to honouring the courage and sacrifice of the servicemen and women at the 2017 Invictus Games!”
 
"This is a great opportunity for the City of Toronto and the country. The much-anticipated return to Toronto by Bruce Springsteen at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games is a wonderful tribute to the military families who we are hosting in Toronto next month,” said John Tory, Mayor, City of Toronto. “The Closing Ceremony is going to be a great way to wrap up an exciting week of the Invictus Games in the city.”
Spirit Flame visits Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre following lighting ceremony in Kabul
16/08/2017
The Spirit Flame landed in Germany today and travelled to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre, a key surgical treatment centre for wounded soldiers, including Canadians who were injured in Afghanistan. The flame was originally lit during a moving ceremony at the Afghanistan Presidential Palace in Kabul on August 9, 2017 and represents the wounded warriors' spirit that, despite injury or illness, still burns bright.

This was the second stop in a sequence of events retracing the journey home that many Invictus Games competitors have endured – from injury, to treatment, to the return home and their ensuing road to recovery. The flame's journey will culminate at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony in Toronto on September 23, where it will be carried onto the stage by a Canadian competitor accompanied by family.

"As preparations for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 reach their final phase, it is important to take a moment to remember why we are doing this. The brave men and women who arrived here were, for perhaps the first time in their lives, badly in need of someone else's help. And they received it, here in Germany at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center with the help of the outstanding medical staff and the support for the families from Fisher House, they were able to begin to rebuild their lives. Without the care that they received here, many would not have made the journey to Invictus Games competitor and to be on their way to Toronto in September," said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017.

Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Team Canada members Cpl. (retired) Chris Klodt, and co-captain Maj. Simon Mailloux were in Germany to receive the flame and to thank the medical staff there for saving their lives and returning them home to their families.

"A return to LRMC for me is quite an emotional time. This is where 10 years ago I was struggling for my life and I lost my leg. This is where doctors and nurses kept me alive. It will be a privilege to visit these people and to receive the Spirit Flame in transit from Kabul towards Toronto," said Major Mailloux. "The Spirit flame, to me, is representing the ideals held by the soldiers who we lost over there. Personally, I will think of the soldiers fallen under my command and the Afghans and allies who suffered in combat with us. Holding it will be a duty and an honor."

"For me the return to Landstuhl is an opportunity to express my gratitude to the people who made it possible for me to make the flight home. Not only were they good to me but I am forever grateful for the way they cared for my family during such a horrific time." commented Cpl. (retired) Klodt.

Also in attendance was the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veteran Affairs Canada who acknowledged the importance of remembering this part of a soldier's journey: "It is an honour to be able to participate in the ceremonies here at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of Invictus Games competitors and to recognize the incredible, lifesaving work undertaken by its medical personnel on those Canadian forces injured in Afghanistan and other overseas operations. Our government is very excited to support this year's Invictus Games in Toronto, as well as the many lead-up events occurring across our great nation which acknowledge and celebrate the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, our Veterans and their families."


Simon Mailloux, a major with Canadian Forces, pushes Chris Klodt, a former Canadian Forces soldier on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Klodt carried the Spirit Flame, a symbol of the unconquerable spirit of the Invictus Games wounded warriors. Mailloux and Klodt were injured in Afghanistan. (Photo Credit: JENNIFER SVAN/STARS AND STRIPES) (CNW Group/Invictus Games Toronto 2017)
"Having the Spirit Flame follow the path wounded soldiers take to get home, honours their courage and dedication," said the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. "It also marks the final countdown for the 2017 Invictus Games and reminds us of the unique opportunity the Games present for service members to build camaraderie and rediscover a sense of belonging. I look forward to welcoming the competitors to Ontario in September and being inspired by the dedication of these wounded warriors to compete and push themselves to their limit."

As Mayor of the host city, Toronto, John Tory said: "There are less than two months to go until the Invictus Games and Toronto is ready to receive the Spirit Flame, cheer on the competitors and warmly welcome their friends, family and fans. We look forward to demonstrating why we are the greatest city in the world".
Invictus Spirit Flame lit in Afghanistan retraces journey taken by Canada’s wounded warriors

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Invictus Spirit Flame was lit today during a moving ceremony at the Afghanistan Presidential Palace in Kabul. The flame will travel to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany later this month before returning to Canada to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, symbolizing the journey of many service members from the battlefield to the Invictus Games – and from injury to recovery. 

“Many Invictus Games competitors served and became ill or injured in Afghanistan,” said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017. “In fact, 14 of the 17 nations participating in the 2017 Invictus Games had service personnel killed or injured there. Afghanistan is now also indelibly woven into the national fabric of Canadian military history. It is fitting that the Invictus Spirit Flame be lit in Kabul.”
 
Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan and Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, led remarks at the ceremony attended by the Afghan team for the Invictus Games and their families, as well as dozens of Afghan officials and representatives of the Kabul-based diplomatic communities with Games participants. Kenneth Neufeld, Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Burns also spoke.  
“In order to stand here in freedom, thousands have lost their lives. Freedom is a product of this collective sacrifice.” said President Ghani. “There is a bond of blood between our soldiers and our peoples, in a cause they have considered to be greater than themselves: it is for the safety of generations to come, and of the world.  Invictus represents the triumph of will over adversity”.

"Invictus is the Latin word for 'unconquered.'  I cannot think of a better way to describe the brave Afghans who continue to fight for their country," said Gen. Nicholson.


The flame represents the wounded warriors’ spirit that despite injury or illness still burns bright, visible in their journey to and participation in the highly competitive Invictus Games. The flame was passed from Afghan veteran Maj. Ahmad Shah to retired MCpl. Jody Mitic, 20-year Canadian veteran and official ambassador of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. Mitic was on his third tour overseas, this time in Afghanistan, when he lost both his feet after stepping on a landmine.  

“It makes sense that the Invictus Spirit Flame would be lit in Kabul.  After all, this is where the lives of so many Canadian soldiers changed dramatically,” said Jody Mitic. “To be a part of an initiative that would provide such vivid context to the realities of service and sacrifice endured by our servicemen and women was an opportunity I could not refuse."
 
The Invictus Spirit Flame lighting ceremony is the first in a sequence of events retracing the journey home that many Invictus Games competitors have endured – from injury, to treatment, to the return home and their ensuing road to recovery.  

Following Kabul, the flame will travel to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany, a key surgical treatment centre for wounded soldiers, including Canadians who were injured in Afghanistan. There, Team Canada competitor retired Cpl. Chris Klodt and Team Canada co-captain Maj. Simon Mailloux will be on hand to receive the flame. Team Canada members will have the opportunity to thank the medical staff there for saving their lives and returning them home to their families. 


Retired MCpl. Jody Mitic, 20-year Canadian veteran and official ambassador of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, lifts Invictus Spirit Flame in lighting ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The flame’s journey will culminate at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony in Toronto on September 23, where it will be carried onto the stage by a Canadian competitor accompanied by family. They will then light the 'I AM' cauldron, marking the start of the 2017 Invictus Games.

“As a former Chief of Defense Staff, I can’t think of a better way to honour the service and sacrifice made by our soldiers, sailors, airmen, air women, special forces troopers and their families,” said retired Gen. Rick Hillier. “This journey will bring great attention and focus on the issues facing our military, veterans and their families and why the Invictus Games are an important part of their healing and recovery."
Bryan Adams, Kelly Clarkson, Bachman & Turner, Coeur de pirate to close Invictus Games Toronto 2017 
The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee unveiled today its lineup for the Closing Ceremony, with performances by Canadian legend Bryan Adams, American singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson, iconic rock band Bachman & Turner and Quebecoise singer-songwriter Coeur de pirate. Held at the Air Canada Centre on September 30, 2017, tickets start at only $60 and can be purchased online at  invictusgames2017.com/tickets.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have secured some truly outstanding, internationally renowned talent for the Closing Ceremony of the Games,” said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017. “It was important to us to offer a week filled with memorable experiences on and off the field of play, for the competitors, their friends and family members and the spectators across Canada and around the world, and this will mean closing out the week in spectacular fashion.”

Presented by Jaguar Land Rover and the Government of Canada, and produced by Patrick Roberge Productions (PRP), the Closing Ceremony will bring together competitors, family members and supporters in a spectacular send-off to a fierce week of competition. Through vivid storytelling and appearances by world dignitaries and internationally-renowned talent, the Ceremony will be an unforgettable experience celebrating competitors’ incredible performances, triumphs and displays of perseverance during the Games. The Closing Ceremony will also mark the official handover to Sydney, Australia — host city of the 2018 Invictus Games.
“I encourage everyone to attend the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Toronto 2017 Invictus Games, which put Canadian artists centre stage and celebrate our diversity,” said The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “Let’s take this opportunity to honour the brave men and women who uphold and defend our values, including those of liberty, equality, respect and compassion. Together, let’s support these amazing athletes and their families!”

Tickets for the Opening Ceremony on September 23 are still available. The ceremony includes equally exceptional talent, with international stars Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara, the Tenors, Laura Wright and La Bottine Souriante. Competitors from the 17 participating nations will also join in the ceremony for the Parade of Nations and the raising of the Official Invictus Games Flag.

“Jaguar Land Rover Canada is immensely proud of our partnership with this year’s Games. We are even more proud of our multi-year role as Presenting Partner for the Invictus Games globally,” said Wolfgang Hoffmann, President of Jaguar Land Rover Canada. “Our company’s values match the passionate, unstoppable, determination of veterans. Our goal, in partnership with Invictus, is to continue inspiring and encouraging injured and wounded military personnel.”

“The excitement is building for the Invictus Games as locals and visitors from around the world are getting prepared to be inspired by incredible feats of strength, courage and bravery on the field of play, and a spectacular line-up of talent at the opening and closing ceremonies,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “What a great way to end an impressive summer of sport in Ontario, which included the North American Indigenous Games, in this milestone 150th anniversary year.”

Taking place from September 23 to 30, 2017, in state-of-the-art venues across Toronto, the 2017 Invictus Games will feature adaptive sports such as wheelchair basketball, archery, swimming, athletics and, new to these Games, golf. Sports tickets are just $25 and can be purchased online at invictusgames2017.com.
Once-in-a-lifetime concert coming to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre to celebrate the conclusion of seven days of remarkable competition
About the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 

The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Established by Prince Harry, the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014; the second, and equally successful, Games took place in Orlando in May 2016. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee is tasked with planning and executing a Games that will feature more than 550 competitors from 17 nations participating in 12 adaptive sports, including, for the first time, golf. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will capture the imaginations of the Canadian public, corporations and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans and their families. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto as well as Presenting Partner Jaguar Land Rover and other partners and sponsors.

These Games shine a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families. They highlight the competitors’ “INVICTUS GAMES spirit.” These Games have been about seeing competitors sprinting for the finish line with everything they have and then turning around to clap the last person in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together. These Games have been a display of the very best of the human spirit.
– Prince Harry, established the Invictus Games Foundation

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The Invictus Games: Changing Lives With Sport
KJ Mullins
At the end of September military athletes from 17 nations will be in Toronto to take part in the third Invictus Games. The brain child of Prince Harry, the Invictus Games feature athletes in 12 adaptive sports using the power of sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery.
On Wednesday July 26 Michael Burns, CEO of Invictus Games Toronto 2017, Martin Nel, Head of Personal and Small Business Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal and Bruce Matthews, Competitor, Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Team Canada joined together to announce a public call to action. The Invictus Games are searching for 150 flagbearers to carry Invictus Games flag across Canada. Starting in Victoria on August 16 the Invictus Games National Flag Tour will finish in Toronto the day before the Games begin. The 37-day cross-Canada journey will visit 22 military bases, 15 legions and over 50 communities who have been a part of Canada’s rich 150-year history.

Are you looking for a unique way to demonstrate your gratitude for those who serve or have served our country? Would you like the honour of carrying the Official Invictus Games Flag? Then we need your help! Apply for your chance to be an Invictus Games Flagbearer in your community or a community near you.


To apply: https://invictusflagtour2017.wufoo.eu/forms/sqrbnv71dr3r61/

For Matthews the games have given purpose back to his day. A Van Doos, Matthews looks the picture of health but he's one of the many who live with invisible health issues. Serving Canada came with a price. He has faced 13 major surgeries in the last 12 years and deals with PTSD after serving in Croatia in 1995. "My daily routine now encompasses more training, healthier eating and a more focused and positive mindset. I have already connected with many peers who I can relate to and who can understand my daily struggles.” Matthews is excited for the Games to start.

The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Established by Prince Harry, the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014; the second, and equally successful, Games took place in Orlando in May 2016. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee is tasked with planning and executing a Games that will feature 550 competitors from 17 nations participating in 12 adaptive sports, including, for the first time, golf.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 will capture the imaginations of the Canadian public, corporations, and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans, and their families. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 are funded by the Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, City of Toronto as well as Presenting Partner Jaguar Land Rover and other partners and sponsors.