The Canadian Centre for Child Protection was incorporated in April 1985 as Child Find Manitoba, following the disappearance and murder of 13-year-old Candace Derksen. Her mother, Wilma, and a group of dedicated volunteers, created the organization to provide essential services to the families of missing children.
Since 1985, the passion and dedication of volunteers and staff has transformed the agency into a charitable organization offering national programs and services to reduce child victimization. In 2006, the organization was renamed the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to better reflect our national role.
Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about how we have evolved into a leading charity protecting children across Canada.
In November 1984, 13-year-old Candace Derksen went missing on her way home from school. The City of Winnipeg was shocked by the incident and banded together to help find Candace. Tragically, Candace’s body was discovered seven weeks later, just blocks from her home.
Candace’s mother, Wilma, and a group of supporters created Child Find Manitoba in April to provide the essential services and support that her family didn’t have access to when Candace disappeared. Over the past three decades, this grassroots volunteer-based organization evolved into one of Canada’s leading children’s charities.
Child Find Manitoba started the popular fingerprinting program. In 1993, the program was renamed All About Me ID. Over the next 20 years, thousands of Manitoba children would have booklets made with their photograph and fingerprints.
The first Green Ribbon of Hope campaign was held. Each May, Canadians were asked to wear a ribbon, which signifies hope and is worn to show support for the families of missing children. The concept came from the students and faculty of Holy Cross Secondary School in St. Catharine’s, Ontario following the abduction and murder of Kristen French, and was used exclusively by Child Find agencies across Canada.
Child Find Manitoba’s Play Tag with Your Kids was first introduced at Winnipeg Blue Bombers games. Kids were given tags to wear with their seat location listed, allowing security to escort them back to their families if they become lost. The program was re-launched in 1998 and expanded to many large community events, including Manitoba Moose games, the Red River Exhibition, and the Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
Ganawenimig – which loosely translates to “taking care of the children” from Cree, Ojibway or Oji-Cree – was a culturally-sensitive program developed to increase the personal safety of Aboriginal children and youth while respecting the unique voices and concerns of Manitoba’s Aboriginal people.
With the support of the Royal Bank Financial Group, Child Find Manitoba introduced a new activity book for parents and educators. The Kids in the Know interactive educational activity book taught children about important issues such as self-awareness, common abduction lures, and hypothetical dangerous situations.
The first Missing and Exploited Children Conference for law enforcement, justice officials, and child welfare services was held in May in Winnipeg. Every year, this three-day conference brings together experts to provide specialized training on issues surrounding missing and exploited children.
Child Find Manitoba received a donation of the TRAK (Technology to Recover Abducted Kids) System to assist with rapid photo distribution. Using TRAK, it took only minutes to create and print a flyer with the child’s photo and case information. The flyer was electronically distributed to businesses and organizations across the country through fax machines.
In May, the provincial government announced the formation of a Children Online Protection Committee (COPC). The main goal of the COPC was to establish and maintain a cybertipline to address instances of child pornography, luring and the sexual exploitation of children by providing the public with a mechanism to report illegal content on the Internet. This was led by Child Find Manitoba and involved participation from both the public and private sector. MTS Allstream was the first provider engaged in supporting what would become Cybertip.ca.
As the Internet gained popularity in the late 90s, staff recognized the growing threat of online sexual exploitation of children and the connection between children that went missing and an online encounter. Originally launched as a pilot initiative, Cybertip.ca was established in September 2002. The tipline’s mandate is to offer Canadians a centralized location to report online child sexual exploitation and educational resources to help keep children safe online.
The Manitoba AMBER Plan Taskforce was established in October to create a Manitoba-based AMBER Alert system, made up of members from Child Find Manitoba, the Winnipeg Police Service, the RCMP, and the Broadcasters Association of Manitoba. The taskforce establishes the systems, policies and procedures, provides training for law enforcement and broadcasters, reviews each activation to help ensure accuracy, and promotes the program to the community.
Child Find Manitoba’s next initiative was Kids in the Know – a national interactive safety program for increasing the personal safety of children from kindergarten to high school. The program is consistently updated to reflect the emerging safety risks facing children in association with the unique information gleaned from the operation of Cybertip.ca. It is designed to empower children and reduce their risk of victimization, and is taught in thousands of schools across the country.
After two years of success as a pilot project, Cybertip.ca was formally adopted under the Government of Canada’s National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet in May. The tipline received significant funding and support from major Internet service providers that include Bell, Telus, Shaw, Rogers and MTS.
Cybertip.ca met with the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, the Department of Justice, and Internet service providers in July, resulting in the formation of the Canadian Coalition Against Internet Child Exploitation (CCAICE). This voluntary, multi-sector group’s mandate is to devise and implement an effective national strategy to help address the problem of online child sexual exploitation.
In May, Cybertip.ca became the fifth international hotline (outside of the European Union) to join the International Association of Internet Hotlines – INHOPE. The mission of INHOPE is to coordinate and facilitate the work of Internet hotlines in responding to illegal and harmful use of, and content on, the Internet. INHOPE currently has 42 member hotlines tackling illegal material online.
Cybertip.ca executed its first pan-Canadian public awareness campaign in 2005. The Child Pornography is Child Abuse campaign ran in major cities across the country and included billboards, posters and public service announcements.
Child Find Manitoba was renamed the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) in May to more accurately reflect its growing national role.
The Billy Brings his Buddies website and teacher kit were launched as part of the Kids in the Know program in September. Sponsored by Honeywell, this initiative helps both educators and parents teach children about the Buddy System. More than 2 million children in Grade 1 have been reached over the years.
The Stop Sex with Kids campaign, a part of the Government of Manitoba’s strategy to address child sexual exploitation, was designed to raise awareness about children who are exploited through the sex trade. Phase I of the campaign began in September, with Phases II and III following in 2008 and 2010.
In the fall, with the support of Shaw Communications, the Canadian Centre launched Zoe and Molly Online – an Internet safety comic book for grade four students. This initiative, which was inspired by a report to Cybertip.ca, enables parents and educators to teach children 8 to 10 years of age about how to be safe when sharing personal information, pictures and videos over the Internet.
Online luring refers to a process through which someone with a sexual interest in a child prepares them for future sexual contact. Supported by Bell, Cybertip.ca released its first luring report in August detailing the scope of the problem; including child victim, suspect, and reporting person profiles, as well as the techniques utilized by offenders to manipulate a child into compliance (grooming process).
Commit to Kids was launched in November as the Canadian Centre’s third national program. It provides strategies, policies and a step-by-step plan to help organizations reduce the risk of child sexual abuse of children in their care. The program was piloted throughout 2009 and made publicly available in May 2010. Commit to Kids has helped strengthen the child protection procedures of more than 13,000 child-serving organizations.
In the effort of helping parents and educators learn more about child sexual abuse and better protect children, the Canadian Centre launched Teatree Tells: A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Kit. Designed for children 4 to 6 years of age, it assists young children in learning important safety skills to reduce their chances of being harmed and increases the likelihood of disclosure. Thousands of early childhood learning centres have received this kit across Canada.
In July, the Canadian Centre teamed up with TELUS to create the Mobile Safety Series. The site (mobility.protectchildren.ca) and guide are designed to inform parents/guardians about mobile technology, potential risks and proactive strategies that can be used to help keep youth safety while using their phones. Over a million guides have been disseminated to parents of tweens and teens across Canada.
In November, Cybertip.ca released Child Sexual Abuse Images: An Analysis of Websites by Cybertip.ca. Supported by Bell, this research report provided an overview of the information received by the tipline, with a particular focus on websites that host child sexual abuse images. Nearly 16,000 websites hosted child pornography and close to 5,000 unique images were examined within this report.
The Door That’s Not Locked, launched in February, is a unique, one-stop-shop for Internet safety information that provides parents, teachers and anyone else interested in keeping kids safe online with the tools and resources they need to do so. It has information about what kids are doing online, the risks associated with those activities and important tips and strategies to help keep kids safe.
For more than 25 years, Child Find Ontario provided support to families of missing children in Ontario. In spring, Child Find Ontario became affiliated with the Canadian Centre.
Twenty-six years after Child Find Manitoba began as a grassroots provincial program, our missing children service launched Canada-wide as MissingKids.ca, a national missing children resource and response centre.
In July, the Assembly of First Nations passed Resolution 38/2011, supporting MissingKids.ca and committing to work with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to ensure our tools and resources are available to First Nation communities.
In May, MissingKidsALERT was launched. This public notification service allows Canadians to sign up to receive geographically targeted alerts when a child in their community goes missing.
In September, Cybertip.ca released its second report on luring. The study examined 264 reports made by the public between 2007 and 2011. This research has substantially aided our understandings of the vulnerability, resilience, and risks to youth, as well as in the behaviour in those offenders who seek to sexually exploit them. This knowledge assisted in the further development and adaptation of prevention and educational materials.
Supported by Bell, the School and Family Approaches to Intervention and Prevention: Addressing Self/Peer Exploitation guide was developed in response to the growing issue of self/peer exploitation (“sexting”) incidents that our agency was seeing through reports to Cybertip.ca. Launched in October, this resource offers schools a framework on how to respond to self/peer exploitation, and how to support the youth and families involved.
NeedHelpNow.ca provides information to youth who have been impacted by a sexual picture/video being shared by peers. The goal of the site is to provide teens with practical steps they can take to regain control over the situation. Mrs. Laureen Harper supported the October kick-off of the site.
In July, we issued our first Cybertip.ca Alert. These notifications sent out to inform the public of concerning technology trends and new resources designed to increase children’s personal safety. The information reported to Cybertip.ca enables us to identify the online risks children and youth are facing. Recognizing that it can be difficult for parents to keep up with technology, these alerts are designed to provide important information to keep young people safe while using the various popular online platforms.
FindMeID, a free password-protected app for iPhone® and Android® devices, allows parents to keep current photographs and critical information about their child(ren) at their fingertips. This app, launched in October, replaced the outdated ID booklet program, All About Me ID.
MissingKids.ca worked with Norway House Cree Nation (NHCN), the AFN and the RCMP to develop a missing child response resource for First Nation, Aboriginal, and northern communities. The Community Action Plan is a proactive tool that helps communities prepare for a missing child situation.
The Commit to Kids – Sport Edition was made available to sports organizations across the country with a donation from Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher, R.A. Dickey (in association with Jays Care Foundation). Launched in April, this resource helps create safer environments for children in sport and involves strategies, policies and a step-by-step plan for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse.
In October, the Canadian Centre hosted a roundtable discussion with the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, law enforcement officials, industry and fellow advocates to strengthen our national resolve, commitment and coordination in our efforts to fight online child sexual exploitation. The roundtable event involved promising discussions about ways to reduce the availability of child sexual abuse material, identifying more victims, increasing reports from Canadians, prevention and education efforts, and enhancing resources and training to stop offenders.
In April, we celebrated 30 years of protecting children. Joined by 500 guests from across Canada, we looked back on all that we’ve accomplished and recognized those who have assisted us along the way. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, Mrs. Laureen Harper and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger brought special remarks at the event. We were also proud to welcome a number of parliamentarians, funding partners, supporters, law enforcement officials and the many families whose stories have shaped the significant work of our agency. Imagine what another 30 years will bring!
Residential school survivors were invited to visit the site of the former Assiniboia Indian Residential School (1958–1973) classroom building – now home to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection – in September. This Survivors’ Gathering included family members, health support workers, the RCMP, the Winnipeg Police Service, members of the community and Canadian Centre staff.
Developed with Cossette Canada, our #ChangeTheStory campaign is about empowering teens to take control of their own narrative after the unwanted sharing of a sexual picture/video. The campaign was launched across Canada in September, alongside the revised NeedHelpNow.ca, with the help of Mrs. Laureen Harper, families, police and educators.
Cybertip.ca released the Child Sexual Abuse Images on the Internet: A Cybertip.ca Analysis in January, based on the review of close to 152,000 reports, examining 43,762 unique images and videos classified as child pornography. The study reinforces concerns regarding the scope and severity of child sexual abuse imagery and proves that more needs to be done to identify these victims, stop offenders and reduce the online availability of this content.
On May 25th, the 30th anniversary of Canada’s participation in International Missing Children’s day, we released preliminary findings from our Abducted then Murdered Children: A Canadian Study. The purpose of the study is to better understand the demographics of these children and gain insights into the techniques and histories of the offenders – all in an effort to help identify additional prevention and intervention strategies in the area of abducted and murdered children.
The City of Winnipeg launched its new child protection initiative in July after working with the Canadian Centre to develop a multi-phased plan to better protect children in city-run facilities. The first phase focused on enhancing aquatic protocols and procedures, and tailored Commit to Kids training for front-line staff. With this initiative, Winnipeg is the first municipality in Canada to implement a protection strategy focused on preventing child sexual victimization in public facilities.
In January, we introduced Project Arachnid, a new tool to combat child sexual abuse material on the Internet. This automated crawler detects images and videos of child sexual abuse material based on confirmed digital fingerprints of illegal content. The need for Project Arachnid comes from Cybertip.ca witnessing the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse material, and was further validated by our International Survivors’ Survey. Preliminary results of the survey, with responses from 128 survivors from around the world, were released alongside Project Arachnid.
Launched in May, our “Don’t get sextorted, send a naked mole rat” campaign breaks down communication barriers using humour and innuendo to reach teenage boys and make it easier to talk about sextortion. Prompted by an 89% increase in reports of sextortion by teenage boys to Cybertip.ca (in 2015 and 2016, compared to the two years previous), the campaign included a new website, a sextortion lesson plan, and memes and gifs for teens to send instead of nudes.