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This article was published 27/11/2018 (357 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Victims of violent crime and their families dealing with the justice system now have a place they can call home, if only for a short time.
On Nov. 26, Candace House celebrated its grand opening. Founded by Cliff and Wilma Derksen, whose daughter Candace was murdered in 1980, the Winnipeg-based charity provides support for victims and survivors of violent crime and "a homelike day refuge for families during the court process."
The reception was attended by Attorney General Cliff Cullen and Mayor Brian Bowman.
"On behalf of our government, we’re proud to support Candace House," said Cullen. "We know how challenging it can be to work through the criminal justice system, and we recognize the role we should be playing to help people navigate that system. We’re committed to providing those services across Manitoba."
The province contributed $55,000 towards operating costs for Candace House, which is located at Suite 1B-183 Kennedy St.
"This is a beautiful space," Bowman said. "One of the most humbling aspects of serving in public life is meeting people in our community who have the strength of many on their shoulders. The strength (Wilma and Cliff Derksen) demonstrated and the love you’ve shown other families, many of whom you have not met or may never meet in creating this space makes me really proud to be a Winnipegger and proud to be a Manitoban and Canadian."
"I’m very emotional," Wilma Derksen told the crowd. "It’s amazing to see how this place reflects the needs."
"To meet the needs of the victims and survivors of crime, we’ve put a lot of attention to detail into the plans for this space," Darryl Stewart, board chair of Candace House, told The Herald.
The former commercial space, which can accommodate up to two families at a time, now includes a kitchen, private washroom, a number of sitting areas, and a soundproof room. Lights throughout are dimmable, and the walls are painted warm colours.
"When you come into our healing haven you can take off your jacket and shoes and put on slippers," executive director Cecilly Hildebrand said.
"It is so perfect," Derksen said. "We need the privacy to laugh at some of the things that happen, which can be misunderstood, or cry and bitterly say those things the heart needs to be able to mend."
The main sitting area is also ventilated to allow for smudging ceremonies and other spiritual activities to take place.
In October, Candace House welcomed its first family. And while the grand opening allowed the Derksens and the board a chance to celebrate the hard work of getting Candace House off and running, the work continues.
"We look forward to continue working with partner organizations and agencies developing services that are needed and promoting access to holistic and culturally appropriate support when needed," Hildebrand said.
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112