Former Sanikiluaq teacher gets 29-year sentence for sexually abusing students

Johnny Meeko showed no remorse, told court that God would punish his accusers

Johnny Meeko, right, hides his face from cameras while being escorted from the Iqaluit courthouse Thursday after a judge gave him a 29-year sentence for sexually abusing children over several decades. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

At his sentencing for sexually abusing young students over several decades, former Sanikiluaq teacher Johnny Meeko showed no remorse and suggested God would punish his “incredibly unbelievable” accusers.

In an Iqaluit courtroom Thursday, Justice Paul Bychok sentenced Meeko to 29 years in prison on 14 offences — 12 sex crimes and two counts of assault.

“Mr. Meeko is a lifelong pedophile,” Bychock said.

Meeko was convicted by a jury June 6, following a nearly three-week trial for offences that occurred between the 1970s and early 2000s.

Former students — both male and female — recounted Meeko’s various forms of abuse, which included inappropriate touching, spanking and rape.

Meeko denied the accusations throughout the trial and sentencing.

Crown prosecutor Abel Dion presented several victim impact statements — some not read aloud, some read by Dion and victim services representative Lorri Martinez, and two read aloud by victims.

All of the victims followed the sentencing from Sanikiluaq, and could be seen on video-conference in a boardroom of the hamlet’s hotel.

A court-ordered ban prohibits the publication of their identities.

“Because of you, I have trust issues,” one of the victims tearfully said.

That victim, who described thoughts of suicide, also said Meeko used God to manipulate and abuse children.

Another victim shared their stories of faking being sick often to avoid going to school. Today, that victim often checks in on children in their family to ask if abuse is happening at school.

A third victim said they experienced harassment from Meeko’s friends and family for reporting the abuse to police. That person said they were fired from their job because their boss was one of Meeko’s siblings.

Defence and Meeko speak

Ilan Neuman, Meeko’s defence lawyer, sought a sentence of six to 10 years while the Crown wanted a prison sentence of 10 to 15 years.

Neuman acknowledged the guilty conviction and that Meeko “cannot hide from that.”

However, Neuman also spoke about how Meeko’s time in residential school and pre-trial custody impacted his life, and that Meeko has lost his status in the community.

Neuman described Meeko as, still, a “deeply religious” man.

“The impact on him cannot be ignored,” Neuman said.

“It’s easy to ignore the individual and say ‘that’s it,’ and throw away the key.”

In court, Meeko appeared to be grinning at people in the gallery at various points, unaffected by his victims’ words.

When Bychok gave him the chance to speak, Meeko once again denied the accusations.

Through an interpreter, Meeko described a “vision” from God he experienced, in which God made his accusers “vanish” and that he would be compensated for their “incredibly unbelievable” allegations.

“That vision is going to become true,” he said.

“I did not do anything.”

While Meeko was speaking, some of the victims could be seen on the video screens with their backs turned towards the camera.

Bychok’s decision

After a nearly two-hour recess, Bychok reconvened court to read his full 40-page decision aloud.

The video feed from Sanikiluaq was cut due to some court staffing issues in the community. The gallery could not see the reactions of his victims, but they were listening to the remainder of the proceedings on the phone.

Given credit for nearly seven years of time served, 69-year-old Meeko will serve the remaining 22.2 years in a federal penitentiary.

Meeko will be eligible for day parole in seven years.

Bychok considered numerous “aggravating” factors in his sentencing decision. Notably, the facts that Meeko was a person in a position of trust around children, the crimes were largely committed at school, and that he targeted and intimidated vulnerable Inuit children.

He described Meeko as a “serial child predator” whose crimes were “calculated and premeditated.”

“The evidence of his pedophelia is overwhelming,” he said.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Alan Klie on

    I’m sure Meeko will appeal.

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    • Posted by John K on

      He already did. This was his retrial.

      He can apply for leave to appeal but I seriously doubt it would be allowed.

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  2. Posted by Finally on

    Kudos to the survivors for continuing on! They helped stopped this monster.

    Finally good to see the Nunavut justice system take sexually abusing children seriously, we’ve seen the articles on here from the child and youth reps about how children need more safety and care. How awful this person even used spiritually, that’s spiritual abuse as well. Just ugh, makes me so angry for the kids that had to endure this, inflicting pain on kids of any kind nowadays should require harsh punishments due to the fact of the long term pain it causes.

    Shame on the families for hurting the victims too, their part of the problem unfortunately, even if it’s elders or family and they hurt others, they need to be held accountable for the pain they caused. Taima.

    All the best to the survivors ❤️ hope they find peace. #Metoo

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  3. Posted by Also on

    Also forgot to note, could the victims get compensation from the government at the time? Wouldn’t they bare some responsibility for not taking it seriously? Similar to the ed horne case. I hope their lawyers help them with this just in case.

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    • Posted by Confused on

      Maybe that’s what they’re after.

      “That vision is going to become true,” he said.

      “I did not do anything.”

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      • Posted by Shaking my head on

        That’s what he wants people and his family to think. They did this to prevent him from doing this against to innocent children.

      • Posted by Wicked on

        Yeah, that’s it. They’re after the lousy bit of victim compensation money that may or may not be available to them. They’ve gone through two trials, been harassed by meeko’s extended family (which must be just awesome in a small, isolated place), in some cases lost their jobs, had to describe (again, in two trials) in public details about scarring sexual experiences. But yeah, it’s for the money😂 Does the fact that he was laughing and smiling not tell you that something is off with him? An innocent man at least would understand the gravity of the situation. Someone who is wrongly convicted wouldn’t sit there laughing and smiling. Not for a second. An arrogant, guilty man would.
        Your statement, and the family’s behavior is the reason people don’t come forward and pedophophiles and rapists walk free. Have fun with that. Shame on you.

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  4. Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

    The judge sentenced Meeko to 29 years imprisonment and the crown asked for a maximum sentence of 15 years, which is basically half of that. What a bizarre ending to a very disturbing case. Regardless of what anyone thinks is proper sentence here, we must all agree that either the crown lawyer or the judge was way off on the right sentence. Like I said, a bizarre end to a disturbing case.

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    • Posted by Long/est Sentence… on

      This is one of, if not the longest sentences ever given in Canadian Legal History for sex assault as far as I am aware…
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      Bychok might have really overshot the sentence in an effort to send a message, but it seems pretty likely that it will get turned into less if ever there is an appeal.
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      Obviously this is a terrible collection of crimes, but it doesn’t seem like it can be the WORST set of facts in Canadian Sex Assault history.
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      I guess we’ll see?

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      • Posted by Make Iqaluit Great Again on

        When you look at the Nunavut/NWT history for this particular category of offence, the offenders have been exclusively white people: Ed Horne, Maurice Cloughley, Eric Dejeager and maybe one or two others that I’ve missed. They didn’t get sentences nearly this long for these horrible crimes. It’s only the first Inuk to join this terrible club, Mr. Meeko, who gets a mammoth sentence that dwarfs each of theirs. Why did our court choose to make a special example of him and depart from the sentencing precedents set by those other non Inuit offenders? Why choose to make a special example of the Inuit offender by handing him the most lengthy sentence in history? These are very uncomfortable questions no doubt, but I think they are questions that should be asked and difficult discussions that we should be having in Nunavut. Uncomfortable to be sure, but really necessary when we talk about systemic issues in our system.

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        • Posted by No on

          Don’t think this is a race thing but maybe that enough is enough with children being abused at the hands of those who should have protected them. When our kids go to school we expect them to be safe at the hands of the staff. This monster took advantage of that and sexually abused kids. Horrible. Enough is enough. This territory needs to stop these crimes so the pain doesn’t keep going through the generations.

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  5. Posted by No Nonsense Larry on

    I hope his sentencing brings solace to those vulnerable people he preyed on. Unfortunately, he isn’t the only predator and he shouldn’t get any day release until he realizes the gravity of what he’s done to families.

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  6. Posted by Pedophile haven on

    I live in a northern town, and there’s more pedophile violent sickness here then anywhere on the planet. Put that with drunken drugged sickos and children are always in danger.

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    • Posted by alex on

      The sad part is, what you just said, I’m sure everyone everywhere can say that. Sad world we live in. People target children for everything. Their sick desires, but also to force their politcal, ideology. Humans need to dominate so much, and children are the easiest to do so.

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  7. Posted by ᐃᓄᕐᕿᒃ on

    He thought he was going to get away with this.
    Justice is SERVED!
    I

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  8. Posted by Karma hit hard on

    Backfired. He won the appeal and the victims sadly had to face him again at the trial with jury, just so he could get higher sentences. He wanted this appeal he wanted this trial

  9. Posted by His former student on

    Dear Johnny , sounds like you are the one who sinned the most . How would God feel about this ? God wouldn’t want you to hurt his children so who is going to hell now

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  10. Posted by Sanikiluaqmiu on

    To his family members, know that he was charged to stop the crime he committed, the victims wanted to be heard loud and clear and stop this abuse, it took so long for them to speak out and stand Up for themselves.
    They charged him for the abuse that occurred in the SCHOOL! You may think he is innocent because he hid this from you, he hid it so well that you think he is innocent.
    You were not there when this Happened to innocent people, you were not aware of what was happening so PLEASE STOP ATTACKING THE VICTIMs on social media.
    ᑕᐃᒪ! Stop this shit or you will be held accountable for harassing his victims, you are showing your true colours by attacking them.

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  11. Posted by Dillon Ford on

    Yes indeed a inuk monster has been caught and will never hurt a innocent child. It’s time for him to join the big boys in prison. Let him suffer the routine of jail and never hurt a child.

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