The nephew and extended family of Moussa Sidimé spoke out in his support Tuesday even as they mourned the death of his 13-year-old daughter, Nouténé, who died three days after he allegedly assaulted her in their Longueuil, Que., home.
Sidimé, 71, appeared in court on a charge of aggravated assault. He was remanded until Friday while the Crown decides if there is any reason for additional charges.
About 20 people close to the Sidimé family huddled outside their apartment building Tuesday, while Moussa's nephew Mamoudou Kaba acted as spokesman.
They propped a bouquet of flowers and an 8x10 portrait of the girl against the concrete stoop. Kaba said the family is devastated.
"Nouténé was a young girl, beautiful and intelligent," and hoped one day to become a lawyer, Kaba said in French.
Kaba said the family's loss is two-fold. Nouténé is gone forever, and now they are dealing with her father's pending court case.
Kaba said his uncle is the rock of the family.
"Uncle Moussa sacrificed a comfortable retirement so his family could get ahead," Kaba said.
There was more grief at Jacques Rousseau High School, where many Nouténé's classmates and friends took to the football field and unleashed balloons into the air in her honour.
Principal Fabienne Longtin called the event particularly touching.
The Grade 8 student was artistically gifted, in a special arts program at the school. It's a tight-knit group — with about 60 students in grades 8 and 9 — and the students were especially affected by the death.
"It was an atmosphere that was like a funeral home, an atmosphere of mourning," Longtin said.
"We put large boards on the wall to let the students write messages and express themselves."
Psychologists are being provided to students and staff, many of whom first heard the news when they returned to school after the long weekend and found media camped out front.