Toronto mourns murdered girl

Grief counsellors are helping at the school attended by Cecilia Zhang, after the nine-year-old's remains were found on the weekend.

Grief counsellors Monday visited the north Toronto elementary school that Cecilia Zhang used to attend.

The remains of the nine-year-old girl were discovered on the weekend, almost five months after she was abducted from her home.

The superintendent for Seneca Hill Drive Public School, Jim Watt, said a team of 10 social workers and psychologists were helping children and teachers cope with her murder. He said they were trying to make things "as normal as possible" for the students.

Watt added that counsellors were trying to be "honest and open" with the students, talking to them in "the context of loss" rather than in the "context of hope" of last fall.

The school's principal planned to visit Zhang's parents and a book was set up in the school foyer for condolences.

Downtown, proceedings at both the provincial legislature and Toronto City Hall halted as politicians observed a moment of silence in honour of Zhang.

"My own daughter is eight and it's just really shocking as a parent," said Toronto Mayor David Miller.

Also Monday, police continued to search for clues in the wooded area west of Toronto where the girl's remains were discovered on Saturday.

Police haven't released the cause of Cecilia's death, nor have they said how long her body was in the wooded area on Mississauga. However, the remains were skeletal.

Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino visited the home of Zhang's parents on Sunday to express his sympathy.

He told reporters Zhang's parents needed time and space to grieve for their daughter.

"I can just tell you that they are just devastated as a family," he said later. "Anybody would be, losing an innocent, precious daughter, a child. I grieve for them."

On Monday evening, Cecilia's parents spoke through a family friend. They took the unusual step of inviting the media into their home in the coming days, to see the little girl's home and to look at photos of their only child.

Cecilia would have turned 10 on Tuesday, and her parents were planning a birthday party as a thank-you to supporters and a sign of faith that she would come home some day.