In November 1984, Wilma and Cliff Derksen's 13-year-old daughter, Candace, went missing on her way home from school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, sparking one of the city's largest searchers for a missing person.
Six and a half weeks later, Candace’s body was found in a shack not far from the Derksen home, her hands and feet bound. Nothing could have prepared the Derksen's for this life-changing experience.
It would be 22 years before a suspect was identified, and in 2011 found guilty of second degree murder. A re-trial for the accused began in February 2017.
As Wilma Derksen watched her own family go through the court process, and continued to meet and interact with other victims, she envisioned for a comfortable, safe oasis for crime victims. A space near the law courts that could serve as a place of rest for victims of crime during their connection with the court process and criminal justice system- a place in which victims, survivors and loved ones could connect with others to receive timely information, nourishment, and encouragement.
Following the first trial, Wilma joined the board of an organization whose focus was to help foster safer communities. The idea of Candace House continued to gain support from the community, growing from a project to an independent organization and becoming incorporated and achieving charitable status in 2013.
While continuing to provide victims and survivors with emotional support, resources and referrals, Candace House continued to search for a home. In spring of 2017, a lease was signed for Suite 1B - 183 Kennedy Street, located less than one block from the law courts. Following a fundraising campaign, construction began to transform what was an empty commercial space into a safe and comforting homelike day refuge.
In fall of 2018, we were delighted to open our doors and to welcome our very first family! And in 2023 with our Honouring Courage Expansion Campaign, we were able to take over Suite 1A and double our capacity to offer refuge to multiple families at one time
Candace House continues to work closely together with victims, survivors, other social services organizations and government agencies, and our community in carrying out this important vision.