Relatives and friends are grieving the loss of six-year-old Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, who died along with dozens of others in a horrific school shooting in Newton, Conn. on Dec. 14. 

The family had lived in Winnipeg before moving to the United States.

“She would write notes and leave them people. She was always working on a craft with somebody in mind for it and had a big heart for family and for friends,” said Karen Schroeder, a family friend.

A vigil was slated for Monday night at the University of Winnipeg to remember Ana.

"The family is coping as best as one can imagine at a time like this,” said Steve West, a family friend. “They are a family of very strong faith and they have very many friends in the States and in Canada and that, and the love of the family, is what's carrying them through this horrendous ordeal.”

“Ana was a spark,” said Elizabeth George, a dance instructor who taught Ana.

“Sweet, very happy little girl. Never sad,” said Erin Hyman, another dance instructor who also taught Ana.

Her dance instructors said the loss of Ana hit hard on Saturday, the day when she would show up for lessons.

They said they’re happy to have memories to hold onto.

“I’m just remembering my last moment with her when they were moving away from Winnipeg. I’m just glad I got to hug that little girl,” said George.

Ana’s father, Jimmy Greene, is a musician and professor who previously taught at the University of Manitoba, and who was well-known in the Winnipeg jazz community.

A statement on behalf of her family was released.

“The family has requested privacy at this time of heartbreaking loss. Nelba and Jimmy have asked us to relay their sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support and sympathy locally, nationally and internationally,” said the statement.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School remains closed.

Funerals for two of the young students killed were being held in the U.S. on Dec. 17.

The first funerals Monday are for two six-year-old boys, Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, who were among the 20 children gunned down Friday morning. Six school staff were also killed in the shooting spree.

So far, Conn. State Police Lt. Paul Vance has confirmed media reports that Adam Lanza, 20, was the gunman, and also confirmed that Lanza's mother was found shot to death at the house they shared.

U.S. President Barack Obama is vowing to use "whatever power" he has as president to prevent another atrocity like Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Speaking last night at a memorial service in Newtown, Obama said the nation can't simply say that this type of violence against children "is somehow the price of our freedom."

A candlelight vigil will be held outside Aurora Family Therapy Centre (Sparling Hall) at The University of Winnipeg, Monday, Dec. 17 at 7:00 p.m.

Ana's mother Nelba Márquez-Greene previously taught in the University of Winnipeg's marriage and family therapy program and was a therapist at the Aurora Family Therapy Centre.

A memorial bursary in Ana's memory has been set up at the University of Winnipeg. People can donate online by going to the University of Winnipeg's website and choosing "Student Awards" and then selecting "Ana Grace Márquez-Greene Memorial Bursary" from the drop-down menu.

A Facebook memorial page was also set up for remembering Ana.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger requested that flags at the Legislative Building be flown at half-mast for the rest of the week out of respect for the victims of the shooting, the province announced in a press release.

"On behalf of all Manitobans I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the many families whose lives will never be the same," said Selinger. "This horrific act of violence has touched the hearts of Americans and Canadians alike. Today we stand with our friends, family and neighbours in Connecticut and across America and, indeed, the world, united in grief. We wish you strength and resolve as you heal in the wake of this senseless tragedy."

- with files from Staff and The Canadian Press


Full statement on behalf of family of Ana Grace Márquez-Greene

"On behalf of the friends, former colleagues and students of Nelba Márquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene, our collective community is together in shock and deepest grief. 

The family has requested privacy at this time of heartbreaking loss.  Nelba and Jimmy have asked us to relay their sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support and sympathy locally, nationally and internationally.

Nelba and Jimmy share a very strong faith that is unwavering and inspiring. 

Along with the deep love from their family and friends, that is what we believe will help carry them during this time of unimaginable sorrow at the death of their beautiful and vibrant daughter, Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, who was six years old.

The family has shared a video, and Ana’s parents ask, “Share this far and wide.  Let the world know the victims - not the shooter.” 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Nelba, Jimmy, their son Isaiah, their families and all those who are affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut."