Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou may still be missing but his family and their friends are holding onto hope.
It has been nearly three months since the 10-year-old boy disappeared but the family’s efforts to make the best of a terrible situation have been unwavering.
“We still believe that our son Ariel will be back,” Ariel’s father Kouadio Frederic Kouakou said.
Most recently, they started a petition to urge the province to create a joint specialized response unit for presumed criminal kidnappings.
Organizers met with Ariel’s father at Les Galeries Normandie in Ahuntsic-Cartierville Saturday, with tablets, pamphlets and the motivation to get the 20,000 signatures required by October.
“If such a unit exists, it’ll ensure the very first minute they can handle the situation and then take action. It can give a quick response and quick results,” Frederic Kouakou said.
Kouakou added the online petition will expire on June 11, and a paper petition will take its place until October.
The petition was started after perceived doubts by the family surfaced regarding the efficiency of police mobilization on March 12, when the boy first went missing.
The family thinks the investigation should have been focused on a possible kidnapping, while Montreal police believe the boy may have accidentally drowned in the icy waters of Rivière-des-Prairies.
Frederic Kouakou told Global News he believes they are wrong and that the warm weather — which has melted the ice — hasn’t confirmed their hypothesis.
“I’m filled with hope,” he said.
He said there are two steps involved in filling out the petition.
“The first is to fill in the form with the information — name, postal code, email address — and then you check the consent box, then you send.
“After that, you will receive a confirmation email. Go into the confirmation email. Then you click on the link in the confirmation email to get your signature taken into account.”
Ariel’s father says the public’s generosity has been beyond measure and he hopes that they will continue to support them by signing their online petition, which can be accessed here.