Province helps fund Candace House expansion
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Candace House, a non-profit organization that supports violent crime victims during the court process, will soon more than double the size of its downtown Winnipeg facility.
It will receive $200,000 from the Manitoba government to help fund a new kitchen, accessible washrooms and other amenities to its building at 183 Kennedy St., expanding into a 2,100-square-foot former law office adjacent from its current 1,500-sq.-ft. space.
Candace House opened in 2018, as a place of refuge and support for family members of homicide and violent crime victims during the court process. It is located less than a block from the law courts building.
Executive director Cecilly Hildebrand said, as the number of homicides has increased in Winnipeg, so has the need for support.
The space, which is set up like a home, with a living room, kitchen and places to sleep has enough room for one family, at most two, at a time, Hildebrand said. That’s meant turning families away while multiple homicide trials are ongoing at the same time.
The renos will add an equivalent second space, and the non-profit won’t “have to turn anymore families away, which sadly has been necessary far too often.”
Candace House was established in memory of 13-year-old Candace Derksen, who went missing on her way home from school Nov. 30, 1984, and was found dead in an industrial area shed about six weeks later.
Her parents, Wilma and Cliff Derksen, wanted to create a comforting space for families of homicide victims to debrief amid the stress of the court process.
Staff and volunteers accompany families to court, provide justice system-related information, emotional and other support, run a meal program and partner with various organizations to give access to other holistic and culturally safe supports.
Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced the funding Wednesday, speaking alongside Hildebrand and Edward Balaquit, whose father Eduardo went missing in 2018. In May, a Court of Queen’s Bench jury found Kyle Pietz, 35,guilty of manslaughter in Eduardo’s death.
Balaquit said the court process was difficult for the family.
“It’s not a positive experience, being in court as the victim. A lot of the unknowns make it a more suffocating atmosphere,” he said.
But Candace House’s welcoming support helped. “It was literally a home-away-from-home,” he said.
Hildebrand said the goal is to have the renovations finished by early winter.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.