New Brunswick

A way to heal: Invictus Games flag flies in New Brunswick

Wounded and ill soldiers and veterans will compete in the Invictus Games in Toronto starting Sept. 23 and the event's flag made a stop in Fredericton Friday.

Jason Israel, a soldier from CFB Gagetown, will compete in 6 events at Invictus Games in Toronto

Jason Israel, far right, is heading to the Invictus Games, where wounded, ill or injured soldiers compete in various sports. His wife Amanda, far left, is a flagbearer. (Kirk Pennell/CBC )

Amanda Israel holds a black flag — with the letters Invictus Games written in white and yellow — high above her head. 

Her husband, a solider from CFB Gagetown, is one of 550 competitors in the event for ill and wounded soldiers and veterans.

Isreal was the flagbearer for a leg of a cross-country tour leading up to the games start next week. With their three children, the family marched to the New Brunswick legislature Friday for their last stop before heading to Toronto.

The Israel family is heading to Toronto where Jason Israel will compete in several track events. Amanda Israel, left, Jason Israel, right and Jakob Israel, centre. (Kirk Pennell/CBC )

The Invictus Games runs Sept. 23 to Sept. 30. Seventeen nations and more than 1,500 volunteers are involved. 

Jason Israel is competing in several running events including the 100, 200, 400 and 1,500-metre races and the 1,500-metre relay.

"I've put a lot of hours in training on the track," he said. "[Competing] is the next step of me healing and us as a family healing together."

Facing challenging conditions

Israel suffers from an occupational stress injury, which is better known as post traumatic stress disorder. 

He thinks the biggest challenge in the competition will be the crowds and the sound of the gun going off due to his PTSD. 

"We've been using whistles to practice starting," said Israel.

The family also visited Oromocto High School as part of their journey and he said it was good practice to tackle the commotion of a big crowd. 

This is one of Jason Israel tattoos. He describes the games as a way for him and him family to heal after dealing with PTSD. (Kirk Pennell/CBC )

Israel has three children, Jakob, Grace and Caleb. All three of them are excited to see their dad compete, and two of them will be travelling with their parents to Toronto.

"I think it's going to be cool," said Grace.

Cross-country journey

The flag started in British Columbia on Aug.16 and arrived in Fredericton Sept. 8. 

Axelle Pellerin, who marched with the Israel family and comes from a military family herself, said when Canada first got the Invictus Games they knew they needed to make it a Canadian event not just a Toronto one.

"I am the master of my fate" is a part of the Invictus Games slogan. (Kirk Pennell/CBC )

She said it's been heartwarming to see the support from Canadians and the respect they have for the soldiers.

"So our Invictus flag is going coast to coast," she said. "It's been a wonderful journey."

International event

Prince Harry started the games after watching the Warrior Games in the U.S. He established an international version and the first games were held in London in 2014. 

This year the games will feature 12 adaptive sports, including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and variety of track and field events. They've also added golf to the list.

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