As the tragic news of the deaths of toddler Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father Terry Blanchette washed over the small town of Blairmore, Alta., prayers and condolences poured in from across the country.
The girl's body was found Tuesday near Blairmore and her father's body was discovered in a home in the town on Monday. Hailey was the subject of an Amber Alert that stretched across Western Canada and into the United States.
On Wednesday morning, RCMP announced that Derek James Saretzky faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths.
In a statement to the media, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called the loss "the most difficult sorrow a family can bear."
For Hailey’s family, now deprived of her sunshine, these are the darkest of days. Please know that all Albertans share a part of that darkness with you. Over the past two days, we joined you in your anxiety and worry, and now we share in your loss, and offer our deepest condolences.
During the Amber Alert, the images of Hailey’s bright smile reached across the province and into the hearts of every Albertan. We all prayed that she be found, and found safely. Our hearts were broken last night when RCMP shared the tragic news.
Our deepest appreciation and thanks go to the women and men of the RCMP for their professional and thorough actions, to everyone who helped spread the Amber Alert through social media, and who joined in the search for Hailey. Your every effort is deeply appreciated and valued.
Thousands of Canadians vowed to turn on their porch lights in support of the families of the slain father and daughter, and people across Western Canada pledged to release balloons and light candles on Sept. 19, in memory of the pair.
Derrick Hardy, an artist from Fox Creek, Alta., was touched when he first heard of Hailey's disappearance, and began a portrait of the young girl.
In a Facebook post, Hardy said he completed the photo when he learned of her death.
"I would like for her family to have this piece, hopefully a family member will see this and contact me," he wrote.
Meanwhile, the team at Calgary radio station CJAY92 set up a fund to raise money for the families. As of early Wednesday afternoon the fund had raised $1,565 of a $20,000 goal.
The hashtag #RIPHailey was also trending on Twitter Wednesday, as thousands shared their prayers and condolences.
Children should never have to bear the burden of adult problems. Whatever the situation the innocent should remain innocent. #RIPHailey— Scott McGregor (@scott_mcgregor) September 16, 2015
Sending deepest condolences to the family and friends of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette. I can't imagine your grief. #RIPHailey— Terry Gibson, Author (@Bookmark_Terry) September 16, 2015
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