Injured and ill Canadian soldiers will gather in Ottawa for the inaugural Valour Games in two years, a new initiative from the Ontario government to use the “power of sport” to encourage the recovery and rehabilitation of active military members and veterans.
In the spirit of the Invictus Games, which saw soldiers and veterans gather from around the world for competition in Toronto in 2017, Canadian military members who were injured or became ill after service will gather biannually to compete in the Valour Games.
The games will be kicked off with a $3-million initial commitment from the Ontario government.
Ontario says it is using funds raised from the Invictus Games to fund the Canadian version of the competition.
Roughly 500 competitors will come together in 2022 for a week of competition featuring 10 adaptive sports, possibly including archery, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball and more.
After the inaugural event, a new Canadian city will host the games every two years.
Premier Doug Ford announced the games at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa on Friday morning alongside Lisa MacLeod, Nepean MPP and Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries.
MacLeod said the games are designed to demonstrate the “transformative power of sport” for wounded military members who are in the midst of recovery and rehabilitation.
Among the Canadian soldiers who competed at the Invictus Games in 2017 was Master Corp. Mike Trauner, who joined Ford, MacLeod and Maj. Gen. Lew Mackenzie, board member of the Valour Games, at the war museum on Friday.
Trauner described how he was wounded while serving in Afghanistan in 2008 after an improvised explosive device went off. He was left permanently scarred by the explosion, losing not only his legs but his “purpose” as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
“At that point, I already knew my career would be finished. I would have to retire from the military,” he said, adding that the incident sent him to a “dark space.”
It was at the Invictus Games in Toronto that Trauner said the “power of sport” renewed his purpose.
“I was challenged to represent my country again,” he said. “I was reenergized, reinvigorated again. I felt like a brand new soldier again.”
Trauner went on to win double gold for Canada in the indoor rowing event at the 2017 games.
He encouraged his fellow military veterans who might be feeling similarly lost to “come out and try” at the Valour Games in two years.
“The power of sport shows them what’s possible,” he said.
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