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Richmond Gilmore Gardens releases hundreds of butterflies in memory of COVID-19 victims

Gilmore Gardens, along with 30 other care homes across the province, partnered with BC Care Providers Association and EngAge BC to host an event to set 1,000 butterflies for free.

Hundreds of butterflies took flight on Friday afternoon at Richmond’s Gilmore Gardens to honour those who have passed away due to COVID-19, while also acknowledging those who survived. 

Lillian Nevin, a resident at Gilmore Gardens, told the Richmond News that words couldn’t describe her excitement and joy to witness the butterfly release. 

“This is my first time seeing a butterfly release. My husband lives with me, but he cannot join the event (due to mobility issues.) I will share what I’ve seen with him,” said Nevin with a big smile. 

Gilmore Gardens, along with 30 other care homes across the province, partnered with BC Care Providers Association and EngAge BC to host an event to set 1,000 butterflies free. These butterflies were supplied by a professional breeder and were distributed among the sites.

According to Mirandah Sinden, general manager of Gilmore Gardens, a butterfly release symbolizes rebirth, transition, life and hope. Gilmore Gardens didn’t lose any residents to COVID-19, but it’s important to honour people who did lose their lives, remember those who have been working on the frontlines to serve the public’s needs, and celebrate and show gratitude for those who stayed healthy and safe amid the pandemic. 

Each resident was given a small white paper box which contained a butterfly and were asked to open the box to set the butterfly free on the count of three. 

“We know that loss of life and social isolation profoundly impacted care home and independent living staff, residents and their loved ones during the first waves of the pandemic,” said Terry Lake, CEO of BCCPA and EngAge BC. 

“While this public health ordeal is not yet fully behind us, thanks to high vaccination rates and loosened visitation restrictions we can safely gather to pay our respects to all who were impacted by the pandemic at these sites.”

Nepin said she hasn’t felt isolated or lonely throughout the pandemic. 

“The staff here has been working hard to keep us safe and happy. I am so grateful for the support,” said Nepin.