Former MLA sentenced to probation, community service for historical sex assault

Baker Lake jury found David Simailak guilty of rape in April in connection with 1973 incident

Former Baker Lake MLA David Simailak has been ordered to serve 240 community hours over the next 18 months for a historic sexual assault. (File photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Former Baker Lake MLA and territorial cabinet minister David Simailak, 70, has been sentenced to three years’ probation and must perform 240 hours of community service in connection with a historical sexual assault.

Judge Chris Martin imposed the sentence virtually Monday morning, to an Iqaluit courtroom. The community service must be performed over the next 18 months.

“I accept that [Simailak] is truly remorseful,” Martin said. “[The crime] does not demand a jail sentence in this unique situation. It would be unduly harsh.”

In April, a Baker Lake jury found Simailak guilty of rape — which was the charge under the Criminal Code in 1973 — over an incident that happened late that year, Martin said.

Simailak, who was 21 then, was working as the manager of the newly built radio station in the community. The victim, a teenager at the time, was there on a school trip.

The two were the only ones left in the station in the early evening when Simailak began to touch her body before the two laid down on the floor, Martin said.

During the trial, Simailak said he thought the victim gave her consent.

In handing down his sentence, Martin said Simailak had been in the residential school system for seven years, experienced trauma and had difficulty returning to his life in Baker Lake afterward, losing his connection with family.

Martin said Simailak spent the past 50 years being a good citizen by serving as an MLA for four years, mayor for two years, volunteering and counselling people.

After police charged him in 2019, the Anglican Church suspended Simailak as an ordained deacon, he’s lost job opportunities and has had suicidal thoughts, Martin said.

After the jury convicted Simailak, the church stripped him of all other volunteer duties he had been doing for the past three decades and he lost his position as chairperson of the Baker Lake District Education Authority, Martin said.

The victim experienced major emotional and psychological trauma and only began to realize the impact the rape had on her life when she was 25, Martin said.

Sometimes, she would call Simailak to confront him.

“She felt shame, grief, depression, anxiety and embarrassment,” the judge said.

“Over a long time, she gained the wherewithal to report it to the RCMP and take, as she said, the hardest trip back to Baker Lake for the trial almost 50 years after she left. She no longer feels the assault defines her future.”

Defense lawyer Jeff Langevin said Simailak’s actions were a result of the federal government removing Simailak from his home as a boy, bringing him to residential school, and then placing him back in his home community.

The Crown had sought a three-year jail term for Simailak.

“When he returned to Baker Lake and behaved the way he did, in a criminal manner, I wonder how — I just, it’s just been gnawing at me — I wonder how morally blameworthy he is in those circumstances,” Langevin said.

“I think Mr. Simailak was fundamentally disadvantaged by the situation the Crown put him in, and now … here we are all these years later, saying … ‘You behaved in a criminal manner.’”

 

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(9) Comments:

    • Posted by 867 on

      Gladue Principle definitely makes it harder for indigenous criminals to face what many of us would consider ‘real justice’. Real crimes deserve real justice regardless of the atrocities of the past

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  1. Posted by Kyle on

    Always acted on looking down on others in the community feeling he was better then everyone. He is a disgrace to his community and Inuit he served.

    His pension should be stripped. Community service for raping someone. If this was an outsider he himself would be losing his mind on facebook. You bring shame to Baker Lake David!

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  2. Posted by Northern Guy on

    As the group of individuals who attended residential schools get older hopefully we will see this flimsy excuse for criminal undertakings start to disappear. There are many Canadians who have experienced significant nd horrific trauma in their lives without resorting to criminality or using it as an excuse to evade punishment.

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    • Posted by Goal Posts on

      Unfortunately the goal posts will always shift. When is reconciliation complete? When do we treachery substantive equality? There is an entire industry working around the clock to make sure Canada remains in a perpetual abuser/victim mentality because this industry benefits from it significantly. When people stop having excuses to identify as victims, they will find new ones. But here you have it folks, not one day in jail for sexual assault on a minor. Thank your Gladue principles for this and our Liberals for putting it into the criminal code. I’ve said this a few times now but why is Justice Martin from Alberta running all these cases and not local judges? Is anyone working here anymore? And the GN wants to limit remote working to Nunavummuit so maybe it should do the same for judges.

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      • Posted by Gladue on

        as an informational Anecdote.
        While the Liberals were the ruling government of 1999, Gladue was a ruling against the government by the Supreme Court of Canada. It was challenged several times before being placed In the Criminal Code of Canada Sentencing principals. Over the years it has done more good then harm but a few cases like this show the problems it can generate.

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  3. Posted by Putting this out there on

    Take away his pension. Just because something bad happens to you does not mean you can do something bad to someone else. I hope he is just the beginning of any of the elders and leaders that have done this to people that end up disgraced.

    NTI you showed you are in support of victims when you went to France, keep it up here at home.

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  4. Posted by Go for it folks ! ! on

    This victim finally reported the man to the R.C.M.P.
    There are many stories like this in Nunavut, but people are to afraid to report it.
    Some men brag about the amount of children they have created, but have never bought
    them a meal, or clothing.
    Pick up the phone and call the R.C.M.P. !!
    Don’t count on our leaders ( at all levels ) to help, because they won’t.

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  5. Posted by No Justice on

    It is a shame that nunatsiaq news has decided to bury this story. This story needs to be seen and heard!

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