Wiky widow mourns murdered partner’s loss

The Simon family in happier times.

Finds it difficult to cope with stigma of his death

WIKWEMIKONG— From the pages of this newspaper, the radio waves and on television, the recent murder of 33-year-old Percy Jr. Simon of Wikwemikong has been widely seen in the press, but the man behind the headline has yet to come through as the focus has been placed on the circumstances around the death of Mr. Simon and the upcoming trial of his suspected killers. The Expositor interviewed Percy Jr. Simon’s partner of 17 years, Joanie Leedham, earlier this week to learn about Mr. Simon’s life and the family he left behind.

“I grew up in Toronto, but my family is from Wikwemikong and we moved back when I was older,” Ms. Leedham shared. “That’s where I met Percy. We lived in Wikwemikong where we started our family of four up until six years ago when we moved to Sudbury. We just wanted more opportunities for our family.”

Mr. Simon worked for a Sudbury construction company and in his spare time loved to spend time with his children.

“We have four children: Joshua, 14, Jayden, 11, Jace, 5, and Emma, one-and-a-half,” said Ms. Leedham. “He was a great dad and partner. He showed so much love for us. He loved to take the kids for walks on the trail behind our house and catch frogs with them. Percy was also really involved in sport with the kids. We went on great family road trips to see my family in Nova Scotia and down south.”

Ms. Leedham told The Expositor that although Mr. Simon loved his job driving a rock truck, he had ambitions to work in the mining field and that he had been applying for jobs.

Around the time of Mr. Simon’s death, he had returned home to stay with his parents Percy and Nancy Simon and help his father harvest wood.

According to the Ontario Provincial Police, Percy Jr. Simon was killed at a home on Andrew Crescent in Wikwemikong on Sunday, May 17 at approximately 6:45 am after an altercation.

The result of a homicide investigation led to the arrest of 31-year-old Robert Travis Wemigwans, 43-year-old Tammy Trudeau and 56-year-old Byron Kagige, who were all charged with second-degree murder.

“While he was home helping his dad, he was still very involved in his kids’ lives,” said Ms. Leedham. “On that night (May 16) he had decided to go out and have a few drinks with friends. I never could have imagined this would happen. It was awful. He had goals, he had ambitions. What happened to him isn’t fair—it shouldn’t have happened.”

“I wasn’t there, but I guess they had been drinking and there was a misunderstanding,” continued Ms. Leedham. “Things got out of control, but for three people to do this to someone is hard to understand. I feel angry. Someone should have stopped it. This never should have happened.”

Ms. Leedham shared that one of the hardest things to cope with since the death of her long-term partner is the stigma around his death.

“People think ‘it’s just another drunken Indian murder’,” said Ms. Leedham, “but that isn’t the case. I want people to know that Percy was a loving father, partner, a man with a goal and ambitions. Our kids miss him every day.”

“Since this happened, I feel like I’m drowning,” continued Ms. Leedham. “Every day I’m just struggling to stay afloat, to be there for our four kids. We have so much healing to do. It is going to take a long time. The kids talk about him all the time, it’s helping us work through this tragedy.”

Co-accused Byron Kagige, Robert Travis Wemigwans and Tammy Trudeau are to appear in court on Monday, June 22 in Gore Bay.