Hundreds of friends, family, and members of Montreal's Pointe-St-Charles community gathered at the funeral of Jolène Riendeau on Friday morning, 12 years after the girl disappeared from the neighbourhood at age 10.

The funeral services, preceded by a visitation, were held at the St-Charles Parish, a few blocks from where the girl was last seen on April 12, 1999, when she went to a convenience store for a bag of chips and was never seen again.

The high-profile case captured headlines in Quebec, as well as people's hearts and minds.

Photos of Jolène, flowers, balloons and pictures of butterflies adorned the inside of the church.

One of the girl's second cousins, Gilbert Vachon, told CBC News that the funeral is just the first step in the grieving process for the Riendeau family.

Among those at Jolène's funeral were Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, who became a victims rights activist after his daughter was murdered about a decade ago in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

Relatives of missing Quebec girl Cédrika Provencher also joined mourners at the Riendeau funeral. Provencher is  the nine-year-old who went missing from near her Trois-Rivières home four years ago.

Retired Montreal homicide detectives who worked on the Riendeau case also attended her funeral. 


Jolène Riendeau was last seen in front of a corner store eating a bag of chips on April 12, 1999. ((CBC))

Rev. Gérard Martineau, the priest who baptized Jolène, has returned to the St-Charles Parish to preside over the funeral at the family's request. 

After the service, the family released 10 white doves. Costs of the funeral are being covered by someone not related to the family who was touched by the story.

Montreal police revealed on May 4 that remains discovered eight months ago under a bridge were those of Jolène.

Authorities encouraging witnesses to come forward about her disappearance and death, which has been confirmed as a homicide.

Police had arrested a 47-year-old man, but released him due to lack of evidence.

He remains the main suspect.