Candace Derksen legacy house for victims and families officially opens

Click to play video: 'Candace House Opens'
Candace House Opens
WATCH: A new space for victims going through the court system is now a reality. Candace House, named for Candace Derksen, is now open – Nov 23, 2018

It’s been decades in the making and a place that Wilma and Cliff Derksen have always dreamed about.

Now, Candace House, a safe haven for victims of crime and their families who are navigating the court system, has officially opened.

READ MORE: ‘Her memory is still alive’: Candace Derksen’s family rejoices as centre in their daughter’s name announces location

The space is just a short walk from the Manitoba Provincial Law Courts building and can be found at 183 Kennedy St.

It provides families a place to take a break or debrief during trials, a place to take a quick nap or prepare and eat meals or snacks,” said Wilma Derksen.

“I want them to feel safe here. Just to know that there’s a place off-campus that you could run and hide and be yourself.”

Story continues below advertisement

It’s a place the Derksens said they wish they had when they needed it, especially during the first trial of Mark Grant, the man accused of killing their 13-year-old daughter Candace.

In November of 1984, 13-year-old Candace Derksen 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 2018.

Get the day's top news, political, economic, and current affairs headlines, delivered to your inbox once a day.

Get daily National news

Get the day's top news, political, economic, and current affairs headlines, delivered to your inbox once a day.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

READ MORE: Mark Edward Grant not guilty in killing of Candace Derksen

“Sitting in the lunch room you never knew who was sitting at the next table listening,” Wilma said. “There was no privacy for that. Just a place to cry. You have all these volcanic emotions.”

WATCH: Wilma and Cliff Derksen share the journey behind the creation of Candace House

Story continues below advertisement

During Grant’s preliminary hearing in 2009, the Derksens found solace in a family member’s camper trailer, which was parked on the grounds of the Legislature.

“We just went to the camper automatically,” Cliff said. “It didn’t take long, we realized this is our dream, what Candace House could look like. Our little Candace House.”

Derksen said years of trials and processing made her realize how desperately Winnipeg needed a place for families involved in the court process to go.

“People wouldn’t think that you need your own washroom. It’s such a place of privacy,” Wilma said. “There was sometimes when I was crying in the washroom and I’d hear someone coming in and didn’t know who that person was and how do you emerge looking half together? You want to appear some kind of semblance of control.”

Everything in the home feels like Candace, they said. It’s exactly what Wilma and Cliff wanted.

“This has the spirit of Candace. Everything in her legacy and in her memory has that kind of personality in it,” Wilma said. “Candace would love this and I think in a way she will be here, to do what she needs to do. Not overtly, but just in a very silent, wonderful, loving way to keep this place safe.”

Even the name is special to the Derksens. Candace House – a quiet nod to make sure the victims have a space.

Story continues below advertisement

“There’s the court house, there’s the big house, there’s a halfway house,” she said. “There’s all kinds of houses and we said ‘we need a house’ and that’s kind of where it came from.”

The charity has received $30,000 in provincial funding this year, along with $25,000 the province provided to help cover the cost of renovations. But it is mainly supported through private donations.

The first family was welcomed to the house in October while they were attending a murder trial.

Another family is already booked in for the space during an upcoming spring trial too.

An open house is planned for Tuesday,

Sponsored content