Editorial: A Butterfly Garden for Jonathan Pitre

This week, Tina Boileau, the mother of Jonathan Pitre, confirmed her interest in a memorial to the 17-year-old warrior who battled the skin disease epidermolysis bullosa his entire life. In a Citizen interview, she agreed a butterfly garden or conservatory could be created or named in his honour.

We like it too. This would be an attractive, fitting tribute to the young man who died just over two weeks ago. Jonathan was known as a “butterfly child” because young people with the skin-ravaging illness EB are immensely fragile.

Where to locate such a commemorative garden? That conversation has only just begun, but it’s evident Jonathan’s many fans in this region would love to push it forward. For example, when we asked city councillors for their initial ideas on location, they responded with enthusiasm:

Right outside City Hall, suggested Catherine McKenney. The Ornamental Gardens on the Experimental Farm, added Riley Brockington (an idea echoed, with variations, by many community members). Half Moon Bay Park, said Jan Harder. Perhaps in the Brewer Park area, or Springhurst Park, said David Chernushenko. Mark Taylor mentioned Wesley Clover Park. If the LeBreton-Senators arena project were more imminent, the garden might go there, noted Scott Moffatt. Jean Cloutier rhymed off a list of potential locations including the Billings Estate.

 There is, of course, the annual butterfly show at Carleton University’s greenhouses. There’s the existing butterfly meadow at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. There’s the lovely, contemplative Butterfly Garden at CHEO. Coun. Michael Qaqish’s office pointed out the Monarch Butterfly Waystation at Stonecrest Park. Several councillors also noted that since Jonathan was from Russell, a butterfly garden need not be the monopoly project of the City of Ottawa.

 Meanwhile, Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton shared helpful ideas too. Incorporate it into the planning for the “Canadensis” botanical garden, perhaps. Or place it at an appropriate spot along the NCC bike path. Perhaps near Dow’s Lake, or the grounds of the Museum of Nature, or Vincent Massey Park. Some locations have a built-in army of volunteers to maintain them, too.

Will the butterflies come? Yes. Ottawa gardens can easily grow purple coneflower, Black-eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, Aster, Joe Pye weed and a host of other pollinators that attract such winged delights, the Master Gardeners tell us.

So perhaps we should all dedicate a small patch in our backyards to the memory of Jonathan Pitre. In the meantime, let the public conversation on the Butterfly Garden begin.

Thoughts on a memorial? Write to us at: letters@ottawacitizen.com

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