A funeral was held for two young sisters from Quebec on Monday after their bodies were found in a wooded area southwest of the province’s capital earlier this month.
Norah and Romy Carpentier, 11 and 6, were the subject of an Amber Alert after they went missing alongside their father, Martin, nearly two weeks ago on July 8. Their funeral was held in their hometown of Lévis, Que.
The two girls’ lives were celebrated at the Claude Marcoux Funeral Complex, but only family were able to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public was able to watch the ceremony live on a large screen placed outside, but people were urged to practise social distancing and wear a mask.
The family posted a message on the funeral home’s website to thank all the police, emergency responders and volunteers who did everything they could to bring the girls home.
To Norah and Romy, they wrote: “We will always regret not having had more than the 11 and six springtimes you were present in our lives, but the memories and love you gave us will remain etched in us forever.”
During the ceremony, the girls’ mother, Amélie Lemieux, thanked her daughters.
“Before your zest for life enriched my life, I was only Amélie. After, I carried you in my womb, felt every kick and brought you into this world. Thanks to you I became ‘maman,'” she said.
“Thank you for choosing me to be your mother — a privilege of immeasurable value. Even if I didn’t have enough time at your sides, I will continue to cherish, one by one, each memory, photo, video and will continue to hear your sweet voices calling me ‘maman.'”
Mourners, some complete strangers, came from near and far to pay their respects to grieving family and friends.
“We don’t know them personally but we came to show our support,” said Gilles Morneau.
“We came for the two little girls,” said Claremont Pelletier.
Ahead of the funeral, Josée Masson, who was chosen to deliver the memorial service, said she hoped to convey the children’s joie de vivre and the love with which they were surrounded while acknowledging the family’s pain and sadness.
“I can’t console them, it’s not something you can console,” she said. “But I will try to create hope and a renewed trust in life.”
Masson also said she would strive to provide guidance on how to support people who are grieving.
“We don’t always know how to help and sometimes it can be awkward,” she said.
During a provincial briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbaut took a moment to extend her condolences to the family on behalf of the Quebec government.
“All our thoughts are with them today, especially their mother, of course,” she said. “Families are going through a difficult time today and all our thoughts are with them.”
Guilbault also reiterated that the whereabouts of Martin Carpentier was still the subject of an active investigation.
What began as a search for the missing trio nearly two weeks ago, became a manhunt for the father after Quebec provincial police found the bodies of the two girls in a wooded area in Saint-Apollinaire.
That search, however, came to an end Monday evening after police located the body of man they believe to be Carpentier.
It was a tip from a resident that led to the discovery in Saint-Apollinaire at around 7 p.m.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) had been searching for the 44 year-old for more than 10 days. They canvassed the forested area while also performing checks of sheds and other outbuildings in the community.
Earlier on Monday, Guy Lapointe, director of communications for the SQ, said several leads were being followed by investigators at the moment. Police have combed through 720 properties in the area and have received nearly 1,000 tips, he added.
The SQ said it appears Carpentier took his own life. Police will be providing an update in the following days.
— With files from Global News’ Brittany Henriques and the Canadian Press