© Copyright – 2017 – Victoria Sports News
For Royal Canadian Airforce veteran and Victoria resident Elizabeth Steeves, joining the military saved her life. It nearly ended it too.
What brought her into the military was her grandfather Thomas Hubert-Scott, who one day, having seen enough of the teenage shenanigans, took her to the barn (in Gananoque, Ontario) and told her that she needs to join the military – she was going the wrong direction – so-much-so, that her substance abuse had blanked out some of her memories.
“That day in the barn, I told him he was right,” shared the 32-year-old. “So I joined and that saved my life. I am sure I would have been a statistic without him. I lost him recently,” she added, tearing up. “My grandfather was the most important person in my life. He was the first person I saw in the mornings and the last person I saw at night. He was an amazing man.” He too was an Airforce vet.
In September, she will be competing in the 2017 Toronto Invictus Games.
What brought her to the Invictus Games was a serious training accident, which included a 12-foot spine-compressing fall directly onto her head as well as iron sight impaling her on the left side – she now wears an exoskeleton and makes use of a wheelchair.
So the Invictus Games are important and emotional for Steeves; to honour her grandfather and her country.
The third biennial edition will include 550 competitors from 17 nations including Afghanistan for the first time. Leading up to it, there is a Canadian National Flag Tour, which launches in Victoria on Wednesday, August 16.
Steeves, a nine-year R.C.A.F. vet will be the first flag bearer of the tour and is a first-time Invictus Games competitor. She will be involved with two sports, powerlifting and wheelchair tennis, which has been newly added for 2017.
She may be permanently physically injured, but she also has done a lot of mental and emotional healing, which will continue. Her husband Travis has stuck with her and has also literally saved her from becoming a statistic. Although she did not utter the condition, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she has had to deal with the reality she isn’t getting better.
“That’s right. I am not going to get better. In fact, I am only going to get worse. So, to me, it is about adapting and living a happy and successful life and Travis, the love of my life, is owed a lot of recognition for his support – it is stressful for him. He has also kept me from becoming a statistic, sometimes on a daily basis.”
Steeves is a tough person inside and out. When the iron spike impaled her, she simply got up and tried to walk it off – she had no idea of the damage that was done.
It is this level of toughness that got her accepted into the games after originally being denied an opportunity to compete. The second time, the Games organizers asked her. They only accept 90 from across Canada.
Steeves’ first duty to do with the Invictus Games was to attend the Abbotsford Airshow last weekend. She has been busy doing media interviews including five on Tuesday alone. It’s a little payback for all of the support that she has received since becoming injured.
The ultimate honour for Steeves is being a flag-bearer and athlete for Team Canada.
“It’s a true honour to represent my team, my country and everybody who has put 110% into the Invictus Games as well as to Prince Harry for creating the event. I have no words to properly convey the emotions, I feel; it’s truly an honour.”
“The organization, Soldier On are taking care of all the athletes. They need to be recognized too, for all of the work that they do,” she added.
Soldier On is a government-funded program to support Canadian military members to overcome physical and mental illness and injury.
Steeves would also like to meet Prince Harry. Her goal is to chat with him on behalf of her grandmother, who would love nothing more than to chat with him herself.
“She would try to pinch his bottom, it’s probably best if I meet him instead,” she said laughing.
The tour will visit Canadian military bases, legions, and communities across the country from Comox and Victoria to Gander, Newfoundland.
The Games, created by Prince Harry, are a Paralympic-style multi-sport event for injured or sick armed services personnel.
There will be a media event at CFB Esquimalt at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, Sept 16.
The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery; Invictus Games Toronto 2017 take place September 23rd to September 30th.
Flag Tour Stops:
When: August 16, 2017 @ 11:45 am
Who: Elizabeth Steeves, first flag-bearer and Team Canada competitor
Where: British Columbia Legislature – Cenotaph, 698 Government St
When: August 16, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
Who: Honorable Carole James, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier, and Elizabeth Steeves, first flag-bearer and Team Canada competitor
Where: CFB Esquimalt – Naden 5 CFB Esquimalt
VICTORIA LEGION BR91:
When: August 16, 2017 @ 4:00PM PST
Who: Albert Head Cadet Band singing the National Anthem
Where: Victoria Legion BR91 – 761 Station Avenue, Langford