By Kosalan Kathiramalanathan
Prince Harry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre on Monday as part of the launch of the third Invictus Games, to be held in Toronto in September 2017.
The prince touched down in Toronto on his way to Orlando and held a press conference at the Fairmount Royal York hotel before heading to Ryerson with the prime minister and Toronto mayor, John Tory. Prince Harry and Trudeau were met with a crowd of children cheering from various high schools and middle schools around the GTA.
Before the prince’s arrival, the crowd heard from Free the Children motivational speakers, Mark Kielburger and Spencer West.
“Today we not only celebrate young people making change, but we also celebrate overcoming obstacles,” said Kielburger, one of the organization’s co-founders.
The Invictus Games are considered the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and ill soldiers and veterans. They were conceived by the prince after visiting the U.S.-based Warrior Games. This year the games are taking place in Orlando, Florida.
The speakers also announced that the charity will also be holding their annual WE Day with the Invictus Games in September of 2017.
The crowd also heard from Dominic Larocque, captain of Canada’s national sledge hockey team. Larocque is a veteran who lost his right leg to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He spoke of the importance of the games, and how they helped him fit back into society after his incident, by making him feel capable of overcoming challenges.
Several members of the sledge hockey team also said that they were optimistic that Prince Harry’s presence at Ryerson would raise awareness of injured veterans and the power of sports with young adults and university students.
“I think the Invictus Games are the perfect fit for university students,” said Captain Simon Mailloux.
“The Invictus Games are all about the power of sports and the ability to rehabilitate. It gears towards veterans, but I definitely think Ryerson students and students across the city will come see us play.”
Retired Leading Seaman Bruno Guevrimont, captain of the Canadian team, said he hoped that the Invictus Games could help students better develop their leadership.
“They’re the future leaders of our country, the business leaders and the people who are getting geared to the next stage, and I hope they come and see what the Invictus Games are all about,” said Guevrimont.
The day ended with an exhibition match between members of the sledge hockey team. Prince Harry, Trudeau and Tory participated in the ceremonial puck drop.