Family and friends of Madison Roy-Boudreau gathered Wednesday night to release purple balloons into the sky at a vigil marking one year since the 14-year-old Bathurst girl disappeared.
The group of about two dozen people shared memories of Madison while speaking under the gazebo at the city's Coronation Park, one of her favourite places.
Maggie Lavigne, a longtime family friend, said she planned the memorial event to thank the community for its support and bring renewed attention to the investigation.
"It seems like yesterday that she left for school and never came home," Lavigne said. "At this point we have to leave it up to the authorities, and hopefully they bring her home so we can put her to rest."
'It's a lot of questions'
Madison was last seen on May 11, 2021, the day she was reported missing to the Bathurst Police Force. Police spent time extensively searching a quarry, waterways and a property in an effort to locate her.
In August, Bathurst police announced they would begin treating the case as a homicide. While they have not identified a suspect, a man was named during a news conference early in the investigation who raised suspicions.
The RCMP's major crime unit has been leading the investigation since last month, after finding reason to believe Madison was near Middle River, outside Bathurst city limits. That would make the case fall under RCMP jurisdiction.
The investigation remains active.
Lavigne said not having answers one year later has made it difficult to find closure.
"It's awful. It's a lot of questions, the whys, what if, what if they did this differently, what if they did that differently," she said.
'It felt like we were letting her go'
At the vigil, purple ribbons wrapped around the gazebo — Madison's favourite colour. Friends remember her as a "happy-go-lucky" girl, a "big jokester" who loved to sing, dance and make people laugh.
As the purple balloons were released into the air, a recording of Madison singing was played.
Ethan Baisley, 14, said he first met Madison after moving back to Bathurst from Miramichi when they were both in Grade 4. He said they became close friends in the months leading up to her disappearance, which came as a shock.
"I found what really hurt the most about tonight was the balloons as they were lifted — it just went with the song," Ethan said. "It felt like we were letting her go."
Alexsa Couture knew Madison before entering elementary school and was one of her oldest friends. She said her disappearance has been emotional for the school community, which has offered counselling.
"She was a rebel and I loved being a rebel with her," Alexsa said. "She always had fun, she was never someone who was boring.
"Everybody knew her, teachers knew her, her whole entire town really knew Maddie. She was an outstanding person."
The RCMP said last month that they are still receiving tips, and anyone with information should call police or Crime Stoppers.
Madison is five feet four inches tall and weighs 119 pounds. She has brown eyes and medium-length brown hair. She was last seen wearing a grey sweater, camouflage pants and silver shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 1-888-506-RCMP (7267), Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, by downloading the secure P3 Mobile App, or by Secure Web Tips at www.crimenb.ca.