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


Cliff Derksen, longtime advocate for families of victims of crime and father of Candace Derksen, died Sunday.

Cliff and Wilma Derksen founded Candace House in 2018 in memory of their daughter, who was killed nearly four decades ago.

The couple “dreamed of a place that could provide comfort, care and refuge when interacting with the justice system for families like theirs,” Candace House posted on their Facebook page, announcing Cliff Derksen’s passing.

“He gave so much to his community and to everyone he met. His laughter, his art, his stories and his heart will be deeply missed.”

Her daughter Candace was 13 when she disappeared while walking home from her school, Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, on November 30, 1984, in the Elmwood neighborhood of Winnipeg.

Candace Derksen, seen in an undated file photo, was found tied up and frozen in a shed in Winnipeg in early 1985. (Family photo)

Her frozen body was found nearly seven weeks later in a storage shed in an industrial estate near the Nairn Overpass, less than 500 yards from her family’s home.

She was wrapped in blankets and her hands and feet were tied with string. The cause of death was exposure.

No one was charged in his death until 2007, when police arrested Mark Edward Grant based on a DNA match.

A jury found Grant guilty of the lesser charge of second degree murder in February 2011, but that conviction was overturned in 2013 by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, which said the trial judge erred in not allowing the defense to present evidence pointing to another possibility. killer – an unidentified man who tied up a second daughter in 1985, when Grant was in police custody.

A new trial was held and on October 18, 2017, Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Karen Simonsen found Grant not guilty, calling the DNA evidence “fundamentally flawed.”

A sculpture by Cliff Derksen sits on a shelf inside Candace House. (Marianne Klowak)

Cliff Derksen was an artist and art teacher and some of his works adorn the walls inside Candace House. He said he used his art to help process his emotions after his daughter’s death.

CBC News has contacted Candace House for comment.