Cedrika Provencher's remains found, missing since 2007
Quebec police say remains discovered on Friday belong to Cedrika Provencher, a young girl who went missing in 2007.
Officers say hunters found the remains in a wooded area about 15 kilometres from Trois-Rivieres, Que., and contacted officials.
Police closed off the area for investigation and sent the remains in for testing, which confirmed they belonged to Cedrika.
Cedrika was nine years old when she disappeared from her Trois-Rivieres neighbourhood on July 31, sparking a massive search effort from volunteers and police.
At the time, neighbours said the girl had last been seen searching for a stranger's lost dog.
Her bike was discovered later that evening, propped up against a fire hydrant.
Cedrika's father, Martin Provencher, spent years looking for his daughter, saying in a 2008 interview with CTV Montreal that it would be "impossible" for him to give up on his search.
Now, after more than eight years, he finally has some answers.
In a message on Facebook on Sunday, Martin Provencher thanked everyone who helped lead to the discovery.
"You've allowed us to make it past another step in this horrible tragedy," he wrote in French. "Now, we can begin mourning in peace."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences via Twitter.
My heart goes out to the family of Cédrika Provencher. May you finally be able to mourn your daughter and may she rest in peace.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 13, 2015
Trois-Rivieres Mayor Yves Levesque told reporters that the community held on to hopes that Cedrika would be found alive one day, “but the reality came up very fast yesterday."
There have been no arrests in relation to the case, but Quebec police say the investigation into Cedrika's death is ongoing. They have not commented on the cause of death.
There are now more than 50 investigators searching the area, looking for other evidence.
Despite the heartbreaking news, Cedrika’s family can now enter a period of mourning, according to Pina Arcamone of the Missing Children's Network, who has worked closely with the family.
“I know that it’s been eight long years for this family. Martin mentioned not too long ago that he was tired. He was tired being able to go on every day not knowing where Cedrika was and that he needed answers,” Arcamone said.
But she added that the “nightmare is still not over” as police haven’t located a suspect.
“We need to find who committed this horrendous crime and this person has to be brought before justice and be put behind bars,” Arcamone said.
"We have to get them off the streets so that (they) can never, ever hurt another child, and put another family through this unbearable grief," she added.
Cedrika's disappearance sparked widespread support in the province, and across Canada.
Hundreds of volunteers offered their assistance to police during the initial search, many of whom returned to the area Sunday to drop off flowers and pay their respects to the family.
Among those who showed up was Martin Prudhomme, the former lead investigator on the case.
Prudhomme, who is now the head of Quebec's provincial police, told reporters in French that he spoke to Cedrika's parents Sunday, and it was a very difficult day for them.
Cedrika's case also inspired the creation of the Cedrika Provencher Foundation.
The foundation is dedicated to ensuring Cedrika's story won't be forgotten, and that no other families suffer the same loss.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 1-800-659-4264.
With files from CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux