The Printing House is proud to support the 2017 Invictus Games! Since its inception in 2014, the Invictus Games has presented a unique opportunity for Canadians to honour the men, women and families who have come face-to-face with the reality of sacrificing for their country, providing active and veteran service members with an opportunity to showcase their unconquerable spirit on an international platform.
On Sunday, September 17th the Invictus Community Flag Relay took place in downtown Toronto. The Invictus Games’ Flag is the symbol of the journey of healing that participants of the games are on. Unlike a traditional relay, each flagbearer could choose to run, wheel or walk their leg of the relay, either solo or with friends and family.
Three members of our team, Nazie, Tom and Hamish, were selected to represent TPH in the relay, carrying the Official Invictus Games Flag through the streets of Toronto. We sat down with them to learn more about their connection to the games, and to tell their personal stories.
Keep reading to learn more about their experience as flag bearers at the relay!
1. What is the personal connection you have to the Invictus games?
Nazie: I am a survivor of many wars, and think it’s time to pay respect to those who have fought on my behalf. I was born in Iran and lived there until the age of 13. My childhood memories include playing with empty bullets my uncle used to bring home from the military, and relocating multiple times due to the Iran and Iraq war that lasted for eight years, ending in a UN-brokered ceasefire. As an adult, I found myself once again in a middle of a war. In the summer of 2006 I went to Lebanon for a friend’s wedding and got caught right in the middle of the 2006 Lebanon War, a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, Northern Israel and the Golan Heights. After deciding to escape to Syria through ground borders, we found there were no flights back to Canada. Out of desperation, we traveled back to Beirut and were rescued by Canadian Army and Red Cross and were so thankful. It was a long 10 day trip to get back home. We travelled to Cyprus on a Greek cruise ship courtesy of the Canadian government and were welcomed by so many people and were provided shelter in a football stadium. After a direct flight to Montreal we were able to return to Toronto by train. I am grateful for all of the fighters that have helped me through those rough times, who rescued nearly 15000 Canadians that summer. Who have fought on my behalf to provide me security, comfort, peace. Who have motivated me and encouraged me to get through tough times. I am thankful and am proud to finally be able to give back to them.
Tom: I was involved with the Armed Forces as a younger man. I received basic training at the HMCS Star facility in Hamilton, Ontario. There I had my basic training and became a Private. After that, I was enrolled in the Army Reserves for several years, ending my deployment with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. It was a tremendous opportunity and the experience made me a better person. The experience instilled in me a respect for the Armed Forces, and this great land that is Canada.
Hamish: I have a deep connection to my grandfather who was stationed in Iceland during WW2. I also have three young sons that we as parents try to instill with messages like “turn empathy into empowerment”. What really inspired me to take part was my entire family – grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, parents in law, sisters in law, nieces and nephews. We have a huge, beautiful family that has dealt with many health concerns, which in many cases would have kept a lot of people down. However my entire family has rallied and championed on. Very recently my family experienced a difficult situation, with our two-year-old nephew Everett being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Even more recently, my two very beautiful nephews Christian and Julien where born at 24 weeks. We experienced a very short time with them before they passed away peacefully, surrounded by family. Through all of this hardship my family has remained positive and empowered to live life to the fullest. They all inspire me to be my best, like they are.
2. Will any of your friends or family members be participating with you in the relay? If so, why do you feel it’s important to bring them?
Nazie: I have a team member that will be joining me at this event. Lawrence has an interest in military history and militaria.
Tom: I’m bringing my kids, as I think it’s important to teach them about empathy.
Hamish: My sons and wife will be there – they are my rock.
3. How do the Invictus Games inspire you?
Nazie: To see so many people coming together to honour and give back and appreciate their support and love they have for all of us.
Tom: “Turn Empathy into Empowerment” is a wonderful turn of phrase. The Invictus Games are an incredible acknowledgment of our Armed Forces personnel and what they do for us. This is truly the best country in the world, and our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve a lot of credit for keeping us safe and secure.
Hamish: To see these brave individuals championing on through hardship.
Post Relay Experience
1. How was your experience as flag bearer?
Nazie: It was amazing! Definitely a proud moment, and glad I was part of it.
Tom: It was a tremendous experience. To be connected with the entire country and the world through the flag bearer project was exhilarating. With the crowd excited and cheering us on we were able to feel a part of the Invictus experience in our own small way.
Hamish: It was a very unique experience. To be part of such a great event was really amazing, and it meant so much more to have my family with me to walk as I waved the flag.
2. Do you have a message to share with those competing in the Invictus Games this year?
Nazie: Good luck and all the best! We are cheering for you all.
Tom: My message for the Invictus Games this year is simply: go out and have some fun. Enjoy the comraderie of your team mates and competitors. Enjoy the payoff from all of the hard work it takes to train and perform in front of the entire world. Take time to enjoy the experience.
Hamish: Continue to be amazing. What a great accomplishment and message to push on.
The Invictus Games take place September 23rd to 30th, 2017 in Toronto.
To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit their website.