When Barack and Michelle Obama posed a challenge to Justin Trudeau last year, our Prime Minister responded with a video showing how Canada brings it. With some of our Invictus team members behind him, the PM performed a one-arm push up.
It was impressive. Also hilarious. Yet his message was ultimately a profound one: that the Invictus Games show us what community can do–a group of individuals from around the world coming together, achieving the extraordinary.
The Games may be financed and produced on something of a shoestring budget, but they attract a huge media following and extraordinary star power. They are after all the brainchild of HRH Prince Harry. Former U.S. President Barack Obama not only backs the Games, he’ll be here. So will Bruce Springsteen, Alessia Cara, Sarah MacLaughlin, and U. S. First Lady Melania Trump. Canada’s Official Ambassador to the Games is Scarborough native Mike Myers, whose connection to the military runs deep – both his mother and father served.
Invictus is the Latin world for ‘undefeated’ or ‘unconquered’, and the Games affirm the spirit of getting up and bouncing back, and challenge us all to recognize the possibilities inherent in those with severe injury or mental illness and give them our support.
The idea behind the Games is based on research-focused rehabilitation and strengthening the relationships that are so necessary for successful healing. Many of the participants have suffered injuries that are not physical; they suffer severe post-traumatic stress, and that can carry a stigma that creates an added layer of challenge to an already strenuous experience. Healing from psychological and physical trauma requires extraordinary social and personal supports; family and friends play an integral role in the long emotional journey of healing.
In that sense it takes a village to heal an injured person.
Participation in the Games is planned and conducted as much as part of the healing process as a demonstration of athletic acuity. Competitors are invited to bring a partner to join them at the Games—to make a plan for their participation in the journey of rehabilitation.
Yes, there is focus on flags, medals and traditional elements of sports competition…the I Am (fierce) code and all that fits into the traditional masculine sport identity.
For service members and veterans, these features may be familiar. For the Games, they wear their countries’ flags in a different arena.
We will see compelling competition. We will also become members of a community that supports rehabilitation, inspiring recovery, and gaining a wider respect for the wounded, injured and sick.
This is a unique way to support our military and their families. The competitors are not professional athletes. They are men and women, many who turned to sport as therapy, because training becomes a way to stay motivated, and creates a place to talk openly. Sport offers a purpose and a mission that can have a huge impact on how these service members and veterans see life, and how they see themselves.