A family from Montreal’s north end is still searching for answers and holding on to hope one year after their 10-year-old son went missing.
A vigil and mass was held Tuesday evening at Saint-Joseph-de-Bordeaux church to mark the anniversary of Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou’s disappearance. Frédéric Kouakou and Akouena Noëlla Bibie, the boy’s parents, were among those in attendance at the packed service.
“At night, we go to bed with hope,” said Frédéric Kouakou. “We know that Ariel will come back home.”
Ariel was last seen on March 12, 2018 after he left his home in Ahuntsic-Cartierville during the day to walk to a friend’s house. Surveillance footage showed images of him entering a nearby park on the banks of the icy Rivière des Prairies, but he was not seen leaving the park.
The boy’s family searched the area alongside police and volunteers for weeks in hopes of finding him. His image was posted on telephone poles, businesses and other places across the city, but to no avail.
At the time, Montreal police said they believed Ariel accidentally drowned. His father said he believed his son was abducted and pleaded for his safe return.
Pina Arcamone, the director general of the Missing Children’s Network, described the past year as difficult for Ariel’s distraught loved ones.
“It has been 365 long days and nights,” she said on Tuesday. “I remember Mr. Kouakou saying the very first night it was the longest night of their lives, hoping to have news of their son in the morning and that news never came.”
His family still has hope he will be found, she added.
“They are holding on the best that they can given the circumstances.”
WATCH: A surveillance video of 10-year-old Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou who has been missing since March 12, 2018
In Montreal, a photo of Ariel is being shown across 68 Metro stations to passersby as a reminder he was never found. His image will also appear across Canada in May on envelopes used to mail CIBC Visa bills, an initiative with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
Authorities hope the initiative will prompt new information about the boy’s disappearance.
Anyone who may have information about Ariel can contact Montreal police at 514-393-1133 or the Missing Children’s Network at 1-888-692-4673.
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