A newly-free butterfly rests its wings at Surrey Centre Cemetery. (Samantha Anderson)

Children release hundreds of butterflies at Cloverdale’s Surrey Centre Cemetery

More than 250 students from A.J. McLellan school participated in the annual event

A.J. McLellan Elementary students released hundreds of butterflies at Surrey Centre Cemetery this week to celebrate the cycle of life.

The annual event, now in its seventh year, sees students from kindergarten to Grace 6 raise butterflies from eggs, through the caterpillar and chrysalis stages, to become adult butterflies.

“The idea behind the event is to teach children about the cycle of life and enhance connections between the community and the cemetery,” said Yalda Asadian, manager of community enhancement, in a press release. “This event opens up conversations around life and death – an important topic we don’t often talk about with our children.”

The butterflies are released in Angela’s Garden, a small oasis within the Cloverdale cemetery that’s filled with bee- and butterfly-friendly plants, park benches, and homes for mason bees.

The garden is named for Surrey Cemeteries staff member Angela Hollaus, who first proposed the idea of creating a garden within the cemetery about six years ago. The green space allows for a quiet, beautiful space to reflect on the cemetery grounds.

Well, it’s usually quiet. On Tuesday morning (May 28), it was filled with 282 elementary students, in addition to teachers, parents, and community members, and it was anything but.

Celebrant Godwyn Young donned butterfly wings and quizzed the students on the butterfly life cycle, and told not a small number of insect-related jokes.

(Why did the kid throw butter out the window? He wanted to see a “butter fly.”)

Classes then took turns releasing the butterflies they had been taking care of for weeks.

The next butterfly release at Surrey Centre Cemetery will take place on Father’s Day weekend, on Saturday, June 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free, open to the public, and honours fathers past and present.

The cemetery is located at 16671 Old McLellan Road. Angela’s Garden is found at the intersection of the main paths.


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A.J. McLellan kindergarten students hold butterflies they raised at their school. (Samantha Anderson)

Celebrant Godwyn Young quizzes the assembled students on butterflies before the release. (Samantha Anderson)

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