Monday, December 14, 2015

They Found Her

Eight and a half years ago, 9-year old Cédrika Provencher, a little girl in our city, disappeared.  It was summer, she'd gone out near her home, on her bicycle.  A man approached and asked her to help him find his dog.  They found her abandoned bicycle and bike helmet.  She was never seen nor heard from again.

I remember that summer, because of the sudden appearance of posters, everywhere, showing her picture.  Just in my neighborhood alone, stores, banks, bulletin boards, telephone polls posted her picture with pleas for information. Each time I crossed the border into the States, her photo would stare out at me, on the bulletin board at Customs, facing every bus traveler coming or going, alongside that of Canada's other missing children.  Despite the offer of a $100,000 reward, despite 200 volunteers for days combing fields and forests, despite massive and frequent media coverage, despite 500 tips phoned in, no trace was ever found.  Until this weekend.

Hunters in the woods in an area off the highway 20 kilometers away found some bones and a skull, authorities determined to be that of Cédrika.  

Persons hundreds or even thousands of miles away spent months (some, even years) trying to help locate her, many convinced they would eventually discover what really happened to her.  Psychics chimed in, people reported having dreams about her, that she was alive, that she was a victim of sex trafficking; others felt certain she was dead.  I myself believed she was still alive, as every year, on the anniversary of her disappearance, local media again reminded us that yet another year had passed and still no answer.

It made me think about all those other disappearances, the other names and faces on the missing children list; about the disappeared in general.  Some had gone missing as long as 20 years ago, with age-progressed images to show what they might look like now. 

Everyone in this region knows who Cédrika is (was), that missing girl from Trois-Rivières, whose photo is still displayed on some local billboards.  How many other Cédrikas there are out there, whose name we'll never know, their stories kept alive by those still hoping they'll be found.

Rest in peace, Cédrika.