Wilma Derksen, O.M.
If you are Manitoban, you know this story: the story of Candace Derksen.
In November 1984, Wilma and Cliff Derksen’s 13-year-old daughter, Candace, went missing on her way home from school in Winnipeg, Canada. It wasn’t until 22 years later, in 2011, that a suspect was identified and eventually he was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced. However, upon appeal, he was subject to a second trial which ended in an acquittal on October 18, 2017.
It’s been over 34 years since Candace was abducted. Her story still lives on. And today, her legacy shines brighter than ever. Cliff and Wilma will never have “closure” but they do have forgiveness. And what Wilma Derksen and her family have since gone on to do is remarkable, unprecedented and simply beautiful. Derksen has influenced victims, offenders and the community by telling her story. She’s also had an impact by facilitating support group of survivors of homicide, organizing dialogues between victims and inmates in prison, conducting trainings, giving lectures, participating in panel discussions, presenting her insights to the justice system and addressing victims’ needs at restorative justice conferences throughout Canada and the United States.
Derksen is a coach/therapist, an instructor at life story writing, a pastor at Maplecrest Church and a published author. She remains a consultant for Manitoba Justice. She is a consultant for the Correction Services Canada, the RCMP, the Law Commission of Canada and the Solicitor General.
She has help found numerous programs, including Child Find Manitoba, Family Survivors of Homicide, Safe Justice Encounters, Voice of Resilience, Victim Companions, Candace House and the Paying Forward Project.
Derksen is an international speaker and consultant on victimization and criminal justice. She has presented to hundreds of audiences who describe her as inspiring and insightful. She is often sought out to be a plenary speaker in conferences, she has led numerous trainings and workshops for non-profit organizations as well as the business sector, she has provided inspirational talks for fundraisers and other events and she is an experienced group facilitator. Her words are often used by numerous media channels, some of which include the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Chatelaine, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and all Manitoba media outlets.
Wilma Derksen’s real passion has always been to be known as an author. It was this writing passion that helped her find expression for her grief. She is a graduate of Creative Communication from Red River Community College, has worked as a Western Regional Editor for ten years, authored six books regarding trauma and murder, and published two historical novels. Now as a Certified Executive Coach, she is using her coaching opportunities to help others find the story within themselves.
In 2018, Derksen saw the opening of Candace house, a place she spearheaded that provides comfort, support and refuge for victims and survivors of crime, within walking distance of the law courts building in Winnipeg so victims of serious crime have a place for comfort.