Nova Scotia

'Triumph of the human spirit': Canada's Invictus Games team unveiled in Halifax

Canada's 40-member team will continue to train for the next three months leading up to the games in Australia.

'Our road to Sydney is less than 3 months away and success awaits us in Sydney,' says team captain

Each year, the Invictus Games have grown with more countries and athletes competing in a variety of events. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Canada's 2018 Invictus Games team was unveiled Wednesday morning in Halifax.

The 40-member team will continue to train for the next three months leading up to the games in Australia that begin Oct. 20. The athletics competition is for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans.

"I see each and every one of you as winners," said Rob Hicks, the Canadian team captain. "Our road to Sydney is less than three months away and success awaits us in Sydney. 

"We will continue to train hard and show the rest of Canada and the world what it truly means to be Invictus."

Invictus is a Latin word meaning unconquered or undefeated.

Derek Speirs, a submariner for 22 years, was on-board HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004 when the submarine flooded and a fire broke out when they were off the coast of Ireland. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Prince Harry laid the groundwork in London in 2014 for the first Invictus Games. Each year, the Invictus Games have grown with more countries and athletes competing in a variety of events. Last year's event was held in Toronto.

"I remember at the end of the games a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee came up to me and said, 'The Olympics needs to be more like the Invictus Games,'" said 2017 Invictus Games CEO Michael Burns in his address to the crowd gathered near the navy dockyard.

"What he meant by that is the Olympics needs to be less about the medals and the competition and more about the triumph of the human spirit."

Derek Speirs, a submariner for 22 years, embodies that spirit.

He was on-board HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004 when the submarine flooded and a fire broke out when they were off the coast of Ireland.

One of Speirs's crewmen, Lt. Chris Saunders, died.

"As a result of stress from that, I developed epilepsy and I later broke my back," said Speirs, noting it will be a tremendous honour to pull on another Canadian uniform when he heads to the Invictus Games. "I've suffered through PTSD and chronic back pain and I'm waiting now to have surgery on my lower back."

Speirs said he is inspired every day by the other members of the Canadian team, who are in Halifax for a four-day training camp.

Chief Petty Officer Robert Patenaude is the only Nova Scotian named to the team. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Chief Petty Officer Robert Patenaude is the only Nova Scotian named to the team.

While serving overseas in Spain, he suffered neck, back and hip injuries.

"I never really thought about the Invictus Games until my physiotherapist had a good conversation with me," said Patenaude, who will be competing in cycling, swimming and athletics.

"I submitted my application about three days before the deadline and early in the New Year I excitedly got an email that I was selected."

Patenaude, who lives in Brooklyn, N.S., and all of his Canadian teammates will be allowed to have their family travel with them to the games in Australia.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.

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