Post on the story behind the Order of Manitoba
By Veronica Gagnon
Wilma Derksen aka Grace Incarnate
A few months ago, I received an email from the Lieutenant Governor’s office notifying me that the deadline for nominations for the Order of Manitoba were fast approaching. This is a standard email which (I believe) everybody that has the honor of working in Manitoba’s Legislature receives. Normally emails like this don’t really pertain to my job so they just get deleted. But this one was different. The wonderful Wilma Derksen came to mind. I enquired and quickly found out she has not been given this honor yet. Surely this was a no-brainer, but time was of the essence and I had so many other deadlines to meet. I printed the nomination form and set it aside.
The Derksens had been receiving so much media the past few months. I can vividly recall Wilma saying, “Aren’t they sick of us?” It had just been the 30th year since Candace’s disappearance. Wilma had just released another book titled ‘This Mortal Coil’ and we were still waiting for the Supreme Court decision regarding the trial. There was also the Candace House ‘debacle’ regarding the rise and fall of Dalnavert; numerous changes in the organizational structure of Candace House. I think Wilma just wanted a break; a chance to pursue her current plans of becoming a ‘Life Coach’, another grandchild on the way. Yes, Wilma wanted to concentrate on other things. I didn’t blame her.
I still believed with my whole heart however, that she (and Cliff) needed to be given this honor. She belongs on the wall of the Legislature – name on a plaque and photo on the wall. She is among the greatest of the great. I sat on it for a few days. I needed to ask her permission before proceeding. If you don’t know her – then let me tell you a few things about Wilma.
I wanted to cast light on Wilma and her life’s work. So I emailed her to ask her permission. At first she politely declined. I should add to that list that Wilma is one of the most humble people I have ever met and does not seek attention nor does she enjoy being in the spotlight. Her response back to me was extremely humble – always telling me how amazing I am and I’m pretty sure she declined. (If memory serves me right??) Then she must have discussed it with Cliff because about an hour later, I received another email with a simple, “Go for it – have fun with it.” (Wilma is always telling me to have fun.) The deadline was less than 3 days away and I was so swamped with work and university. Not to mention, the application required 3 letters of support. There just wasn’t enough time! So I completed everything as best as I could (minus the letters of support). I figured if she didn’t get it this year, then at least I had a good template to use for next year’s submissions and would have more time to pull everything together. I clicked “send” and a few days later I received a letter from the LG’s office saying the nomination had been accepted.
Then, I kind of forgot about the whole thing.
Last week, on Manitoba’s 135th birthday, they announced the 2015 Order of Manitoba recipients. Right up there was Wilma’s name! Beside hers were other eleven other names including Tom Cochrane and NHL great, Jonathan Toews. Hey, the term “Hero” takes on a different meaning for so many….but I had the honor in nominating mine. I truly believe she is most deserving of this designation and I know she shares it with her husband, Cliff.
Congratulations Wilma Derksen, OM
~ Miss V