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Invictus Flag Tour stops in Brandon
Brandon Sun ~ 2017.08.31

Master of ceremonies Kenn Bell, a Invictus Games 2017 representative,
addresses a crowd during the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 National Flag Tour stop
at the Brandon Armoury on Wednesday morning.

Messages of empathy and empowerment rang out as the Invictus Games National Flag Tour made a stop in Brandon on Wednesday. The ceremonial flag is on a 37-day journey from coast to coast, visiting 22 military bases, 15 legions and more than 50 communities in the lead-up to the 2017 games in Toronto. "When we secured the games, we made a promise to our partners, and the Invictus Games and to Prince Harry that we weren’t just going to deliver the games to Toronto, but we were going to deliver the games to a nation," said Frazer Hadwin, flag tour senior manager.

The games were established by Prince Harry in 2014, and are the only international adaptive sport event for injured active duty and veteran service members. This year’s event takes place Sept. 23-30, and will feature 12 adaptive sports such as archery, powerlifting, cycling, wheelchair rugby and swimming. A total of 559 competitors from 17 nations will participate. "I think Canadians have an incredible awareness of their military, and incredible empathy and understanding of their service," Hadwin said. "It’s nice to get the story out of the successes of the men and women who are competing, and the men and women who stand behind them, the brothers and sisters at their bases."

CFB Shilo members attended the special event, which was held at the Veterans Memorial near the Brandon Armoury. Local athlete Nicholas Verleun will be competing at the games in the powerlifting event. "I’m feeling great. Honestly, powerlifting for me has probably been lifesaving," he said. "Just getting into it, and getting back healthy, it really opens up an entirely new world … People can start off in a very dark place, and every day, you may not feel like it, but it’s another step forward out of it."

Originally from Prince Edward Island, Verleun has been at CFB Shilo for the past two years. He has been deployed to Afghanistan, as well as standard domestic operations. He has dealt with a combination of mental health issues and physical injuries. Seeing all the support from the community was a touching moment for Verleun. "It’s really cool. I’ve served with so many people here, it’s like another family," he said.

Chris Klodt spoke to the crowd about how his involvement in adaptive sports helped turn is life around. He served with the Canadian Forces from 2002 to 2014. In 2006, he suffered a life-altering injury when he was shot in the neck while on tour in Afghanistan. "I was very fortunate that during my rehab, I was given a copy of a movie called ‘Murderball’ — wheelchair rugby, the world’s greatest sport," he said. "But I went into a dark place because I still was grieving the loss of my body."

In 2009 he took the steps to get into the sport. "What it has given back to me, there aren’t any words for it. It returned a quality of life that you just can’t understand." Klodt encouraged people to reach out to those who may be having a difficult time. "Let’s not leave them behind. There’s a lot of guys suffering out there and you know who they are," he said. "Get them involved in sports, even if it’s taking them out for a jog, getting them out to play some basketball … These games are all-inclusive, I want more guys on the team next year."

Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire visits with retired soldier Chris Klodt,
who was injured during a tour in Afghanistan,
during the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 National Flag Tour stop at the Brandon Armoury on Wednesday.
Klodt will be competing in the 2017 Games as part of team Canada’s wheelchair rugby team.

Wikipedia Refs: 2017 Film ~ Battle of Dunkirk
Dunkirk is a 2017 English-language war film written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. Set during the Second World War, it concerns the Dunkirk evacuation. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is an international co-production between the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the Netherlands.

Nolan wrote the script, told from three perspectives—the land, sea, and air—to contain little dialogue and create suspense solely through details. Filming began in May 2016 in Dunkirk, France, and ended in Los Angeles, United States, where it also began post-production. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large format film stock. The film made extensive use of practical effects, such as employing thousands of extras, assembling boats that had participated in the real Dunkirk evacuation, and using genuine era-appropriate planes for aerial sequences.

Dunkirk had its world premiere on 13 July 2017 at Odeon Leicester Square in London, England, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom and United States on 21 July 2017 in IMAX, 70 mm and 35 mm film. It has grossed over $105 million worldwide and was praised by critics for its cinematography, direction, acting and Hans Zimmer's musical score, with some critics calling it one of the greatest war films ever, as well as Nolan's best film to date.

Calgary veteran who survived Dunkirk causes a stir at movie premiere
Global News ~ July 22, 2017
Theatre goers watching the premiere of “Dunkirk” at Calgary’s Westhills Cinemas on Friday night got a surprise encounter with a 97-year -old man who was at the battle in 1940. The Battle of Dunkirk took place during the Second World War between the Allies and Nazi Germany in Dunkirk, France.

Calgarian Ken Sturdy, dressed in a jacket adorned with medals, viewed the movie and was impressed by what he saw.  “I never thought I would see that again. It was just like I was there again,” Sturdy said. “It didn’t have a lot of dialogue. It didn’t need any of the dialogue because it told the story visually and it was so real.”

The movie Dunkirk tells the terrifying story of the evacuation of allied troops from the French city of Dunkirk.  It’s thrilling entertainment for most viewers, but for just a handful of people in the world, it contains images that bring back memories of surviving Dunkirk. “I was in those little boats picking them out of the water,” Sturdy said.

He was a 20-year-old signal man with the Royal Navy helping evacuated soldiers reach waiting boats from the chaos on the beach. “I had the privilege of seeing that film tonight and I am saddened by it because of what happened on that beach,” Sturdy said.

More than 68,000 British soldiers were captured or killed during the battle and retreat and over 300,000 were rescued over nine days. The harrowing scenes took Sturdy back to a time when he was on those small boats. Sturdy said the beach was filled with terrified soldiers. “I was 20 when that happened, but watching the movie, I could see my old friends again and a lot of them died later in the war,” Sturdy said. “I went on convoys after that in the North Atlantic. I had lost so many of my buddies. One of my mates was taken prisoner. He wasn’t killed on the beach.  They marched him up to Poland. And he spent five years in a German prisoner camp.”

Other people at the Calgary premiere were honoured to encounter such a decorated veteran at the theatre. Many gathered around Sturdy to shake his hand and offer their thanks. “At the end of the movie I ran down the stairs and he was just wiping his tears away and I was able to shake his hand and give him a proper salute,” Kelly Kwamsoos said while fighting back tears. “I really hope that the younger generations can understand what it was like and really count their blessings. We’re so lucky,” Kwamsoos said.

Sturdy hopes the movie sends a message to a new audience of the sad nature of war and our apparent inability to avoid it. “Don’t just go to the movie for entertainment. Think about it. And when you become adults, keep thinking, “ Sturdy advised. “Tonight I cried because it’s never the end. It won’t happen. We the human species are so intelligent and we do such astonishing things. We can fly to the moon but we still do stupid things,” Sturdy said. “So when I see the film tonight, I see it with a certain kind of sadness. Because what happened back then in 1940, it’s not the end.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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