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Monarch Festival Celebrates Migration

Saturday, Faith in Place welcomed over 300 people to its Monarch Festival at the historic South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago. The day celebrated the monarch butterfly’s migration story and its parallels to the migration story of people.


Xochitl-Quetzal Danza Azteca performs at Monarch Fest 2019.
Xochitl-Quetzal Danza Azteca

American Indian, Black and Latinx groups shared about the journeys that brought them to Chicago. From watching Aztec and African dance performances to enjoying delicious tamales, the day was a celebratory reflection on both the hope and pain migration embodies. Guests were also welcomed to share their own migration stories representing nations across the globe.


Toni Anderson, who founded Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab, joined the celebration with her youth who are passionate about monarchs. Sacred Keepers empowers youth to explore and heal the intersection of climate and culture. Currently, they are hosting a six week monarch ecology internship with youth that participated in the festival.


A young participant enjoys the butterfly artwork.
A young participant enjoys the butterfly artwork.

Toni’s love of the monarch is rooted in environmental justice and her passion for what she calls “space equity.” She explained that for her, “space equity” is the just distribution of environmental, economic, historical, natural, social and educational resources.


“Everything should be free to move about the world the way the monarch does. The monarch is not thinking about policy or border walls,” Toni shared. She went on to say, “For any species, migration progresses future security. So for us that are a part of this festival, the monarch is a symbol of freedom, transformation and beauty. This festival brings together people across ecology and cultures to celebrate the amazing species that we have as a gift in our city twice a year.”


Kids and adults watch two butterflies fly away in awe.
Wow — The butterflies are off on their journey!

The release of two monarch butterflies, who the youngest festival goers christened "Prom King" and "Princess", ended the day's festivities in the Cultural Center's nature preserve. Faith in Place is grateful to everyone who joined Saturday and especially to the Kalliopeia Foundation whose generosity made the day possible.

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