Manitoba

'This is Candace's legacy,' Wilma Derksen says as Candace House secures location

It’s been years in the making but Candace House has officially secured its new home in the heart of Winnipeg’s downtown.

Sanctuary for victims of crime, named after Derksen's daughter, will officially open in the fall

Wilma Derksen announces the official location for Candace House. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

It's been years in the making but Candace House has officially secured its new home in the heart of Winnipeg's downtown.

The haven for victims of crime and their families who are navigating the criminal justice system is named after Candace Derksen, whose frozen and bound body was found in early 1985.

"This is Candace's legacy. I'm near tears looking at this. Every part of her life she seems to be memorialized in creating something new," said Wilma Derksen, Candace's mother, at an announcement of the upcoming opening of Candace House on Wednesday.

The space, located at 183 Kennedy St., will officially open in the fall, and will provide families a place to take a break or debrief, offering a living room with chairs, pillows and blankets, and a kitchen to prepare and eat meals or snacks.

Candace House is named after Candace Derkse, who was killed in 1984. (CBC)

"This is phenomenal in terms of timing," said Cecilly Hildebrand, Candace House's executive director.

"It's Victims and Survivors of Crime Week. The closing arguments have just taken place for the Mark Grant case. Everything just seems to be coming together."

Testimony in the retrial for the man accused of Candace Derksen's murder wrapped up earlier this month.

Mark Edward Grant was found guilty of murdering Candace Derksen in 2011, but a new trial was ordered after his defence team argued possible evidence of a different killer was improperly excluded from the first trial.

Candace House is located one block away from Winnipeg's Law Courts and will be open during the day for families attending court proceedings.

"It depends on trials going on. There are many trials and preliminary hearings that take place throughout the year," said Hildebrand. "There may be anywhere from one to 25 family members that might attend."

Wilma Derksen calls Candace House the legacy she hoped for for her daughter. The haven for victims of crime and their families who are currently navigating the criminal justice system is named after Candace Derksen, whose frozen and bound body was found in early 1985. 1:09

'You need a place to recover'

In November of 1984, 13-year-old Candace went missing on her way home from school in Winnipeg. Nearly seven weeks later her body was found, bound and frozen in a storage shed.

Grant was charged with her murder in 2007. His first trial took place in 2011. His retrial began in January of this year.

The floorplan for Candace House and design suggestions were displayed at Wednesday's announcement of the facility's new location. (Lyza Sale/CBC)
Derksen says years of trials and processing made her realize how badly Winnipeg needs a safe place for families involved in the court process to go. She says long days at the courthouse were intense and she would have appreciated a place to go and relax, kick up her feet and close her eyes, even if only for a minute. 

"You need a place to recover when you're waiting for a verdict. There's no place," says Derksen. "You're very aware of the need of privacy and comfort."

Right now, design of the interior is underway and a fundraising campaign will be kicked off in the next few months to raise the remainder of the money needed.

The project is expected to cost around $1 million.

Wilma Derksen calls Candace House the legacy she hoped for for her daughter. The haven for victims of crime and their families who are currently navigating the criminal justice system is named after Candace Derksen, whose frozen and bound body was found in early 1985. 1:51

About the Author

Courtney Rutherford is a journalist with CBC Manitoba.