Invictus Games marching on for veterans
Murielle Berube-Grant and her daughter deliver the Invictus Games flag to Camrose on Sunday. Supplied
As Toronto prepares to host the 2017 Invictus Games, Camrose did its part in setting the stage as a stop in the games’ nation-wide flag tour on the weekend.
Murielle Berube-Grant of Beaumont delivered the Invictus Games flag from Edmonton to Camrose on Sunday before handing it off to Capt. Daniel McLean who led a group that took the flag to Drumheller by motorcycle.
The Invictus Games are a little different than most multi-sport international games like the Olympics or Commonwealth Games. The Invictus Games are a vehicle to help discharged or retired veterans of armed forces to return to civilian life. In some cases, there is a physical barrier and the former soldier is a para-athlete. In other cases, the games help soldiers to overcome mental distress and disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
They are the brain child of Prince Harry, and Toronto will be the third city to host the games.
Berube-Grant’s husband John Grant retired from the Armed Forces after eight years in the navy and 17 years in the air force. She wanted to be involved as a flag bearer because of a close friend of her husband, Master Warrant Officer Dale Robillard, who is currently battling PTSD and many physical ailments after 25 years of service. He spent the bulk of his career carrying out rescue missions with the Coast Guard out of Comox, B.C. He will be competing in the games as a golfer.
“At one point he thought he’d never be able to swing a club again,” said Berube-Grant. “He’s the guy that when you do a search and rescue mission over the ocean during a storm, he’s the guy that flies down the cable and rescues somebody below and gets banged up quite a bit. He’s had quite a few near death experiences.”
Unlike the Olympic torch relay, the Invictus flag is driven across the country to each of its destinations before being handed off to the next flag bearer.
Berube-Grant wanted to involve her four-and-a-half-year-old daughter in the ceremony and transporting the flag as a way of connecting her with her father’s past. Grant now works in the oil and gas industry.
“My husband spent 25 years in the military, but I met him after the fact,” she said. “For me, it’s gaining an understanding and I’d love for my daughter to have that understanding of what her dad went through and what his life was like prior to us meeting him.”
There was a small gathering on hand at the Camrose Railway Museum and Park for the hand off. It is something she will remember for a long time.
The Invictus Games will attract 550 athletes from 17 countries — 90 from Canada — to Toronto from Sept. 23-30 with CTV broadcasting the opening and closing ceremonies and TSN broadcasting competition coverage. The first games were held in London in 2014 and Orlando in 2016.
Berube-Grant will not be able to make it to Toronto for the games, but she will be home cheering on the competitors and helping to continue to spread the word about them.
“I hope (the athletes) all get their support and that Prince Harry continues on with his mission of shedding a light on the stigmatism that is often wrongfully attached to those who look for help,” she said. “I hope we as a country continue to support our military personnel after they are retired, injured or not injured.”