Family members who helped raise Tina Fontaine made their first visit to the spot where the 15-year-old's body was recovered from the Red River, as they seek closure and remember the young girl they loved.
Joseph Favel and other family members went to the Alexander Docks in Winnipeg on Wednesday evening, marking the first time they stood at the location where Fontaine's body was pulled out of the river on Aug. 17.
Favel and his wife, Thelma, who were Fontaine's great-uncle and aunt, helped raise her for 11 years. He said Tina was like a daughter to them.
"Everyday we had her, [she] grew more and more beautiful there," Joseph Favel told CBC News.
Favel described Fontaine as someone who "always had a smile, willing to lend a hand especially to people that need it.
"Always had a big shoulder to her friends and stuff like that. If her friends were feeling down, Tina would be right there," he said.
Fontaine had been reported missing from Child and Family Services care over a week before her body was found.
Winnipeg police are investigating her death as a homicide. Investigators have said they believe she had been sexually exploited.
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Police have made no arrests.
Favel said he wants people to see Fontaine as the girl he raised and loved. He said he cannot believe reports that his great-niece worked in the sex trade.
"It is hard for us right now because we know Tina as a different person," he said.
"She was always a homebody, and she went to her friends and stuff like that. But I don't know what got her here," he added, looking out at the dock.
"When she left that day, everything was good. Smiles and everything. That's the last we've seen of her."
The Favels said said they asked CFS for help in July after Fontaine started acting out and running away. They believe her struggles were related to the violent death of her father in 2011.
However, they said they always thought Fontaine would come back home.
"She should have been at home, going to school today," said Joseph Favel.