There is a growing need for bereavement supports for residents of our county. Grief touches us all, whether it’s the death of a parent, friend, child, pet or whether it’s a different loss. Over a year ago, SIRCH started a bereavement program to help residents grieving the loss of a loved one. The program included 2 levels of grief groups, running every spring and fall, and a third level which runs monthly. These have been enormously impactful to the participants, helping them make sense of a world without their loved ones in it.
SIRCH receives no government funding for its bereavement program. To ensure that the Journey Through Grief groups can continue, SIRCH started a fundraising event last year, called “Release of the Butterflies”. Hundreds of beautiful Painted Lady butterflies were released at once into the air at the wetlands behind the Minden Cultural Centre. What a beautiful and meaningful occasion that was!
This year we will once again have the “Release of the Butterflies” in Minden on June 12th. Overwhelmingly, people are excited and supportive about this event, which includes entertainment, children’s activities, food, and (of course) the release of hundreds of butterflies. SIRCH did a great deal of research last year before introducing this fundraiser, to ensure that releasing this many butterflies would not interfere with our local ecosystem or the butterflies we currently have.
We chose Painted Lady butterflies, rather than Monarchs, because the Painted Lady is the most prolific butterfly in the world, covering North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The main reason for this is the large number of host plants they will use. The butterflies lay eggs on a number of natural and garden plants including hollyhock, thistle, sunflowers, clover, lambsquarter, yarrow, mallow and others. Painted Ladies are found all across North America, and the Painted Lady’s gene pool is spread over much of the hemisphere. Even though the butterflies have been raised in protected conditions, they are not domesticated. They are as wild as their counterparts that exist in this area. We also chose a local butterfly farm in Lakefield that is family owned and we visited the farm to see their operation prior to committing to the event.
The healthy butterflies that are released will be both male and female. They will enter the natural environment in our area and reproduce, increasing the numbers of the butterflies locally. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly noticed a decline in butterfly populations over the past decade (bees too). Butterflies are important pollinators. And unlike bees which are generally restricted to a local area, many butterflies are always on the move and can cross pollinate over a large area, improving the genetic mix of genes of the plant community. Ceremonial releases have become an important proactive ecological program for maintaining wild populations of these amazing insects and also the native plants that depend on them. We chose the Minden Cultural Centre because of the beautiful wetlands that the boardwalk meanders through.
Other benefits of our butterfly release:
- It’s a chance to educate our children on the life cycle of a butterfly and how important they are to our ecology
- It’s an opportunity to honour someone in your life, to launch a hope or dream, or celebrate a special person who has passed on by symbolically releasing a beautiful butterfly
- It’s a chance to enjoy entertainment, camaraderie, and good food in an idyllic setting
- It supports our critically important Bereavement Program in this community
- It will help support the addition of other bereavement supports in this county – specifically we would like to do a children’s grief group.
Please join us on June 12th for our Release of the Butterflies event. If you’d like to help with the event or make a donation, or purchase butterflies to release please contact Marilyn Rydberg, RotB Fundraising Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information about the bereavement program or the Journey Through Grief groups, contact Shelley Richardson, Journey Through Grief Coordinator, at email@example.com.