Symbols of memory take flight in Garson

Categories: Care.

Moments before a butterfly release event at the Garson Community Centre on Sunday, Sudbury resident Patricia Lamirande braved a gauntlet of honeybees to capture a wild monarch in her hands. She cupped it carefully for a few moments before the dainty creature slipped away.

“My daughter Emily is here to release one for my grandpa, Reginald Lamirande,” she said. “I didn’t have one, and wanted to release one, too.”

The wild butterfly was soon joined by hundreds of kin raised at a farm in southern Ontario as supporters of the Maison Vale Hospice gathered to honour departed loved ones and raise funds for the palliative-care facility.

“We sold 350 butterflies this year and fundraised $13,000,” said Nathalie Depatie, fund development coordinator with the hospice.

She explained the butterflies arrived in a state of hibernation and were kept cool in plastic-foam containers before being handed out, in small triangular boxes, to the crowd of sponsors.

Laurie Castron, of Newmarket, was on hand to honour her late father Fred, along with daughter-in-law Janice Castron and granddaughter Kaytlin, both of Sudbury.

“My dad died last June and was six weeks in hospice here, and we were so thrilled with the care that he and the rest of the family got,” said Castron. “So, we want to support the hospice any way we can.”

She said the facility is a “very special place” where family can focus on spending time with their loved one. “You’re in such good hands, so I got to just be the daughter and be with him.”

After her mother died, predeceasing her father by 14 years, Castron became involved as a facilitator for bereavement support groups in southwestern Ontario.

“We’re touched by death every day, hearing about it on the news, but until you’ve lost a loved one you don’t really know what it’s about,” she said. “People talk about closure, but personally I think it’s a misnomer; it’s not closed, you never stop missing them. It’s events like this that give you the opportunity to think of them and reflect.”

This was the third year for the hospice butterfly release, and the first time it’s been held in Garson. Previously it took place at Fielding Park and Bell Park.

Depatie said it’s a crucial event for the facility as “we need to fundraise over $800,000 each year to cover operational costs.”

While the butterflies might not have hatched in Sudbury, the species released Sunday were types known to frequent the area and “we’re certain they can survive this climate,” she said.

Apart from the iconic orange monarch, participants also released a number of smaller, but equally pretty, varieties. “We have blue ones and red ones,” noted Depatie.

Hospice supporters paid $30 per butterfly to take part in the event.

Abbas Homayed, chair of the Maison Vale Hospice board, said the butterflies represent an “acknowledgement of the life lived,” as well as symbolize “transformation and change.”

Between the butterfly release and other fundraisers, Homayed said the hospice has raised nearly $50,000 to date this year.

Money from the event on Sunday will “support both residential care and the volunteer visiting program,” he said.

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