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By Darryl Stewart

A life changing encounter takes me to the next level

by Darryl Stewart, Head of the Herd

This past week I met Wilma Derksen over coffee and then had the pleasure of introducing her before she spoke to over 125 business people.    I had read about Wilma in Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath.  Meeting her and then seeing how her message affected this tough business crowd was inspiring to me.

Wilma’s daughter Candace was abducted, molested and murdered in 1984.  It took police six weeks to find her frozen body and almost 20 years more to find and convict someone for the killing.  The convicted murderer has recently appealed and won, and this has recently been sent for retrial – imagine what this whole ordeal would do to most people.

The Wilma I met:

  • was not full of bitterness, but rather of love.
  • was not full of revenge, but rather of forgiveness.
  • was not feeling sorry for herself, but rather looking to share her journey and her amazing outlook.
  • was not looking for pity, but rather was curious about my world.

Just some of the key things I took away from Wilma’s message:

  • Remember and accept that life is unfair – and live it with gusto anyway.
  • Don’t wait for justice – it is not coming (this does not mean let the world walk all over you).
  • Love hard now – you never know what will happen next.

Forgiveness is the Key

Wilma had a good deal of forgiving to do so that she would be there for her other two young kids and her husband and not go crazy herself.  She realized that her life would be forever changed when Candace was killed but over time she came to see that the change could be positive if she moved on through forgiveness.

  • Forgive yourself – she forgave herself for not picking up Candace the day she was killed.
  • Forgive your enemies – she forgave the man who assaulted and killed her daughter.
  • Forgive the world for hurting you with indifference and uncaring – she forgave the justice system.
  • Don’t wait for someone to change to forgive them – life is too short for this.
billboard sign with words "Forgive"
Photo by Ross Griff

The challenges I face every day as a husband, father, friend, manager and leader suddenly seen pretty minor in comparison to what Wilma has faced.   Using the lessons she learned, that allowed her to overcome such a terrible setback, will surely take me to the next level.  I hope for you too.

You can see some of Wilma’s message and her charm by viewing her TEDx Manitoba talk from 2012.

IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant. 

Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.