Sometimes it feels like the world is one giant slow motion train wreck. We expect the news to be full of disaster and mayhem, and many develop compassion fatigue as a result. In the West, people are increasingly sceptical of government, politicians, business, religion, unions—just about any institution you can name. This mistrust is further fueled by the preponderance of fake news and biased information. When the Oxford dictionary names “post-truth” the word of the year, you know things are bad.
But sometimes things happen that uplift society—things that inspire, educate and bring us closer together. Those events are worth celebrating, because they help repair the fraying fabric of our society. The Invictus Games—which happened in September in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)—was one of those events.
Inspiration at its best
The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 was an 8-day event that welcomed more than 550 competitors from 17 nations. At the forefront of the Games were the inspirational stories of its competitors; stories of determination, rehabilitation, and resilience of men and women who thought they had lost it all before they discovered sport and the Invictus Games.
The Invictus Games did not go unnoticed by Canadians:
• 84% of all Canadians are aware of the Invictus Games;
• 93% of people in the GTA are aware;
• 89% of people in the GTA say the Invictus Games were positive;
• 69% of GTA residents followed the Invictus Games.
This support was appreciated by the athletes. “The support from the spectators was incredible and meant a lot to the teams from all nations,” said Invictus Games competitor Joel Guindon. “To receive applause when we got off the bus at the venues and hearing thousands of voices cheering us on at every event is something that will stay with me forever.”
Uplifting shift in people’s attitudes
With an understanding of the Games came a profoundly positive shift in people’s attitudes. There was a roughly 75% increase in the number of GTA residents who strongly agree the “Toronto 2017 Invictus Games make me feel proud of our veterans.” And there was a doubling of the number of people who strongly agree that as “a result of the Invictus Games, I understand a bit more about the challenges that our veterans face when they return from service.” There was also a doubling of the number of people who say the “Toronto 2017 Invictus Games make me feel proud to be Canadian.”
This proud moment, coupled with an increase in understanding, translated to greater support for wounded veterans. The Invictus Games doubled the number of people in the GTA who feel strongly about wanting to do their “part to support veterans with mental and physical injuries”. It also significantly increased support for wounded veterans and for the Canadian Armed Forces in general.
The Invictus Games did much to foster understanding and support for our veterans. But the Game’s patron, Prince Harry would like to see an even wider, longer lasting impact. In his address at the closing of the Invictus Games he said “To the thousands who filled the stands this week, and the millions who watched at home, let me issue you a challenge. Don’t just move on from these games with happy memories. Instead, make an Invictus goal for yourselves. Let the examples of service and resilience that you have seen, inspire you to take action to improve something – big or small – in your life, for your family, or in your community. Let’s create a ripple effect of the Invictus spirit across our nations, that will be the real legacy of this extraordinary week.”
In times that often seem overwhelmed by division and distrust, the Invictus Games have been a breath of fresh air. Let’s keep up the positive momentum and take Prince Harry’s challenge “to improve something – big or small – in your life, for your family, or in your community.”