Cliff Derksen, advocate for families of crime victims, has died

A well-known advocate for the families of victims of violent crime in Manitoba has died.

Cliff Derksen, who founded Candace House along with his wife Wilma, died Sunday, according to a note posted on the charity’s website Wednesday.

Read more: Candace Derksen legacy house for victims and families officially opens

“He gave so much to his community and every person he met,” the note reads.

“His laugh, his art, his stories and his heart will be deeply missed.”

Click to play video: 'Healing through art: Cliff Derksen’s outlet after daughter’s murder' Healing through art: Cliff Derksen’s outlet after daughter’s murder

Healing through art: Cliff Derksen’s outlet after daughter’s murder – Mar 3, 2017

Cliff and Wilma Derksen founded Candace House in 2018 as a safe haven for victims of crime and their families who are navigating the court system.

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It is named after their daughter, Candace Derksen, who was murdered at the age of 13 in 1984.

When Candace House opened, Cliff told Global News the space was something the couple wished they had when they needed it, especially during the first trial of the man originally accused in Candace’s killing.

Read more: Resource for victims’ families reopening — with restrictions — after Manitoba courts resume

During a preliminary hearing in 2009, the Derksens found solace in a family member’s camper trailer, parked near the court in downtown Winnipeg.

“We just went to the camper automatically,” Cliff said in 2018.

“It didn’t take long. We realized this is our dream, what Candace House could look like. Our little Candace House.”

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In February Manitoba announced $100,000 in provincial funding to help Candace House with a planned expansion of its Kennedy Street building.

Last November Candace House said they’ve helped roughly 500 victims, survivors and family members in its first three years of operation.

Read more: Refuge for victims’ families recognizes one year of crucial service to Manitobans

Cliff was also an artist. In 2017 he told Global News he used sketching and sculpture work as a form of therapy to help during difficult times, including the trials connected to his daughter’s murder.

“There was a stage where I had to work out what evil was about, to some degree,” he said at the time of his creative work.

“A lot of these pieces are like, OK, I’ve gone through that emotional experience, OK, that’s done … it’s like a sign of what I’ve had to go through.”

Click to play video: '“We need a house’: Wilma Derksen explains how Candace House came to be' “We need a house’: Wilma Derksen explains how Candace House came to be

“We need a house’: Wilma Derksen explains how Candace House came to be – Nov 26, 2018

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