by Isabel Mosseler
It was a cathartic evening for many when 300 butterflies were released into the air on Wednesday, July 25th. The first annual Gaëtan Serré Butterfly Release captured an emotional moment and released some love into the atmosphere as people gathered at the amphitheatre at Minnehaha Bay to commemorate the work of a good man, the love and grieving of a local family, and the desire to help those in need by leaving a legacy.
The event was initiated by Jeannine Serré, widow of the late Gaëtan Serré, in conjunction with the West Nipissing Community Kitchen and Horizon Women’s Centre, to raise funds for the planned soup kitchen. Thirty dollars bought a chance to free a butterfly. It was also one of those social events couched in a community of people caring for each other. Jeannine Serré, following the event, said that for her it was like a sweet sadness – she felt her late husband was there.
The event was relatively low key, with people chatting and greeting each other, catching up with old friends, with some face painting for children, all under the hot evening sun and the drifting in of smoke from area forest fires. The rising smoke did not dim the event. Following a welcome by the mayor, the program was taken over by vocalists Catherine Gervais (Gaëtan’s granddaughter) and Sara Mailloux, accompanied by keyboardist William Lemieux, offering up two songs. Mrs. Serré then briefly addressed the crowd, accompanied by her children Lynn Serré-Gervais and Marc Serré, offering thanks to the attendees and acknowledging the work of her late husband in supporting the less fortunate within the community. She personally prepared small thank-you bookmarks for everyone who purchased a butterfly. She did not speak long, and it appeared the family was somewhat overcome by emotion. Lynne Serré-Gervais said, with a catch in her voice, “Thank-you! If it weren’t for my mom this wouldn’t be able to happen, we wouldn’t be here tonight. This was your idea and we are very proud, so thank you.” The family presented Jeannine Serré with a bouquet of flowers, and thanked all the helpers.
Marc Serré, who is the MP for Nickel Belt and more accustomed to speech-making, was also obviously moved. “It’s so humbling to be here tonight and you are all making a difference. The legacy of my father helping, supporting our neighbours … our community, he would be so proud tonight to see everyone here. His message to all of us, the legacy that he left, is that we have to think about our bonds. All of our loved ones are with us; in spirit they continue to be by your side. I know he his here with us tonight.”
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