The Red Deer Hospice Society is giving Central Albertans the opportunity to release a butterfly through the Annual Live Butterfly Campaign.   

Every year, Red Deer Hospice hosts a memorial butterfly release to remember and celebrate with the families who have had someone in hospice in the previous year.    

However, during the pandemic, the campaign was opened to the public, as it became evident that the tradition was a way the community was able to connect. 

When the campaign opened, Central Albertans were encouraged to purchase a butterfly and release it in a place that’s meaningful to them,  

“We found when we started opening it up to the public that it's not just for people who are grieving, but they were also used to celebrate milestones in someone's life or give hope to someone who needed it,” said Fonda Devereaux, Red Deer Hospice Fund Development Manager. “We're just really happy that we now have opened it up to the public in a way that allows more people to participate in something very meaningful to hospice.”   

Butterflies were chosen for the campaign as the release can be a healing experience that can comfort family and friends who have experienced a loss. Butterflies are also often considered a representation of the various stages of life and demonstrate that despite adversity, simple changes and time can make life even more beautiful than before, a Red Deer Hospice press release said.   

The butterflies released are all Painted Lady, as they are natural to the area and are beneficial pollinators, helping maintain flowering plants and habitat.    

Painted Lady butterfly.Painted Lady butterflies are released during the Red Deer Hospice Annual Live Butterfly Campaign.
Photo provided by the Red Deer Hospice Society. 

Devereaux explained that the campaign can also be educational for youth. 

“It's not only for celebrating, giving hope, or grieving, but it’s also educational. The joy that we get on that day is a lot of the kids learning about the butterflies and then getting to take them and release them on their own,” she said.    

The funds raised from the campaign are allocated to supporting compassionate care for residents.    

“Funds could be used for anything. It’s to help us support people and compassionate end-of-life care in Central Alberta. It’s not designated to one specific thing,” Devereaux said.    

Butterflies can be purchased online here, until May 24. All orders will be individually packed and distributed curbside on June 21.