Hospice Muskoka is honouring lost loved ones by releasing butterflies into the wild.

The Annual Butterfly Release allows residents to receive butterflies after making a donation to Hospice Muskoka. The butterflies are then dedicated to loved ones that have died, and released during the annual ceremony.

“It’s become our signature event, because it really speaks to people, coming together, releasing your butterflies,” says retired Hospice Muskoka Executive Director Sandra Winspear. “It’s quite moving and quite important to the people who are releasing their butterflies.”

Typically a live event at Bracebridge Memorial Park, the release is being held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospice Muskoka will hold a live stream on their website to read the names of the lost, play music, and present a tribute to pandemic “heroes.”

The event last year raised more than $35,000 and saw the release of 575 butterflies. Winspear says she’s excited to see the turnout this year, and looks forward to a return to the in-person event.

“I can’t say enough how fortunate we are to be able to continue it, and I can hardly wait till next year where I hope we can all gather in the park again and watch 800 butterflies take to the air all at once,” says Winspear.

The event takes place August 15, and reservations end July 10. The butterflies cost $30 each, or $100 for four. Visit Hospice Muskoka’s website for more information.