'We need to do more': event raises awareness for monarch butterflies

A province-wide relay run for monarch butterflies is in its home stretch this week after stops in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

The 21-day relay covers 1800 kilometres through Ontario from Peterborough to Barrie to raise awareness about the endangered butterfly and other pollinators.

“We need to do more to protect the environment,” explains relay co-founder Carlotta James. “Specifically, more to protect pollinator gardens.”

The relay run originally planned to follow the monarch migration from Canada to Mexico as it did in 2019, but had to be shortened with COVID-19 protocols in place to keep participants and supporters safe.

“We didn’t want to just sit at home and write about it and try to garner support through online mediums.” James says. “We really wanted to walk the talk. So running for a cause is a really cool concept.”

This year’s run is raising funds toward Camp Kawartha, a non-profit organization that provides nature education programming for youth. The goal is to raise $10,000 and a virtual version of the event is available online.

“It takes place anywhere in North America and you can run, walk or bike 10km and you get a beautiful monarch inspired medal buff and you get to be part of the whole monarch ultra movement.”

Kingsville runners, Jodie and Steve Sonoski covered 30 kilometres between Amherstburg and Windsor. The pair say they follow Monarch Ultra online, and are happy to spread awareness. “We’re just happy to help out and get some exercise along the way.”