The mother of missing nine-year-old Cédrika Provencherhas come forward for the first time, making a tearful plea for help Monday morning at a news conference in Trois-Rivières, Que.
Until now, Karine Fortier has kept out of the public eye, leaving it to her husband to speak to the press. But she spoke up on Monday,two weeks after Cédrika went missing andafter police suspendedtheir ground search on the weekend.
"I've rarely agreed to speak with the media because I don't feel at all comfortable doing this,"Fortier explained in French. "I'm doing it now today to try and get things moving, we need to help my daughter, and I'm convinced that there's someone, somewhere who knows something."
Fortier thankedthe publicfor their assistance so far in the search for her daughter, and urged people to come forward with any detail, no matter how small, saying the information could turn out to be important in moving the case forward.
"Please, please, it's absolutely essential," she said crying, adding that tips could be handled confidentially. "The objective is simply for me to find my daughter."
She described her daughter as a generous child who was ready to help her family and everyone around her.
"She was always ready to help people, she was full of love, and I can't believe that there's not someone, somewhere who knows something," Fortier said. "We still have hope. I'm sure it's not too late, it's not too late."
Cédrika was last seen about 8 p.m. on July 31, not far from her home. Witnesses have said she told them she was looking for a dog, and three other young girls have since come forward to say a man approached them to help look for a lost dog.
Although police suspended their ground search on the weekend, saying they had scoured the area,volunteer searchers fanned out again on Sunday and Monday.
"We'll continue," Martin Provencher, the missing girl's father, said Sunday.
"We're trying to keep our morale up," he told the Canadian Press. "We have a lot of hope."
Celebrations at Trois-Rivières' annual family day were halted for a moment of silence on Sunday, and residents gathered for an evening march in Cédrika's honour.