Event planning volunteer opportunities

Commemorative events

The intention of commemorative events is to provide a time to reflect, honour and speak openly about pregnancy and infant loss. For some families, it is the only place where they feel safe to speak their baby’s name out loud. It is a place to feel validated in their grief, and to be amongst others who share their pain. It can be comforting to be surrounded by a community of other bereaved families and supporters.

Memorial butterfly release and family picnic

The butterfly gatherings take place twice a year. The first takes place in early June in the Greater Toronto Area, and the second in September in South Western Ontario. These events are very important to bereaved families and have become something that many people look forward to attending every year. We anticipate approximately 500 participants for each event.

Bereaved parents, extended family and friends are invited to gather together to remember their babies. There is a family style picnic with games and activities for children, including the purchase and release of monarch butterflies.

Butterflies are a common symbol of infant loss, as they represent metamorphosis, transformation, and the cycle of life and death. Butterfly signs are often placed on a hospital delivery room door to notify staff that a stillbirth has occurred in that room.

October 15th: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and Bill 141

PAIL Network has organized events for many years on October 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. One such annual event has been the lighting of the CN Tower in blue, pink and purple. Other events include the walk to remember, as well as participating in the wave of light candle lighting.

In 2015, as a result of the passage of Bill 141, October 15 was officially proclaimed Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in the Province of Ontario.

Walk to remember

Walk to remember events take place across Ontario on or around October 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Historically, volunteers have organized a walk each year in Toronto at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Families gather at the visitation centre, and walk together to the children’s garden where a short program of speakers and performers are offered.

Mary Kerr founded the children’s garden in memory of her baby to provide place for parents to gather and remember their babies, regardless of the circumstances of their loss.

Pinwheels for PAIL

This initiative was developed to enhance awareness of pregnancy and infant loss to smaller communities across Ontario. Individuals and groups can purchase pinwheels from PAIL and display them in prominent locations on October 15th. The pinwheels serve as a symbol of collective solidarity across the province. Event volunteers are responsible for promotion, sales and distribution of pinwheels in their communities.

Holiday candle lighting ceremony

Holiday candle-lighting events take place in early December across Ontario. The program is organized by volunteers, and usually includes readings, songs and/or other memorial commemorations. Bereaved families have an opportunity to light a candle in memory of their baby, and get a chance to network with one another.

Third-party events

Many people have their own unique and creative ideas for commemorating and supporting the pregnancy and infant loss community. PAIL Network supports individuals and groups in the planning and execution of their independent events.

Examples of successful initiatives include:

  • Educational events
  • Memory making art events
  • Tournaments
  • Online auctions
  • Walk-a-thons

If you have any questions, please contact us at PAILvolunteer@sunnybrook.ca