The family of Cooper Nemeth released a statement Monday night following a smudging ceremony to honour the murdered teen.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Gateway Recreation Centre to pay their respects to Cooper, who was 17. The Winnipeg teen was found deceased Saturday night after going missing nearly a week prior.
The search rallied an entire community, with friends, family and strangers spanning across the city and into rural areas in hopes of bringing Nemeth home.
Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, faces second-degree murder charges and made his first court appearance Monday morning via video link.
Read the family’s statement below:
Brent, Gaylene & Kiana Nemeth along with their family would like to acknowledge the overwhelming response of support to their son Cooper Nemeth’s disappearance and subsequent passing.
“We are not a family that asks for help, we have always strived to be humble and helpful by opening our home to any one at any time. But when we needed it, you all came out in full force.
In Cooper’s last days he united a city, a province, and the humanity in all. He became not only our son, brother, nephew, grandson and great grandson, but yours as well. Regardless of status, race, or upbringing all of you came out to find our boy. We cried, hoped and prayed as one, as it should be. Thank you.
Our entire family is in awe of the love you all showed for our boy. He has now become Winnipeg’s boy. Thousands of you gave your time, your effort, your resources and all you had to bring Cooper home.
Now you are all supporting us again with your outpouring of condolences, well wishes, and offers of help in our time of sorrow. Thank you.
We’d like to thank the all the businesses, and individuals that sent in donations during our search to keep the volunteers and our family going strong with supplies, food, time, and more. There are too many to list at this time. Thank you.
We’d like to thank The Winnipeg Police Department and our family especially my sister Laresa, her husband Brent and to our very good friends Andrew and Cory for jumping to immediate action and rallying the community and the media to find Cooper. There was so many of you and I cannot list all of you right now but you know who you are.
You shook this earth so hard and screamed from the rooftops so loud to find our boy and he was found. You made so much noise that it scared all those involved in hurting Cooper, and that is why he was found and justice will prevail.
You kept us strong and our hopes high throughout this ordeal and now you show so much love and support. Cooper’s loss will serve to bring his family closer than ever before. We love you all so very much.
All our lives will never been the same. We will heal and adapt over time, but we know now there is a community and a family that will be doing the same. As you are all sorry for our loss, we are sorry for yours.
We love you Cooper, more than we can ever say or show. You will be by our side every step we take.”