The spouse of Nunavut MLA Fred Schell has been sentenced to 12 months of probation for assaulting her husband.

Ezevallu Qatsiya, 29, appeared in court in Iqaluit Monday afternoon.

Schell, who is the MLA for South Baffin, and Qatsiya were charged with assaulting each other after an incident on April 10 in their Iqaluit apartment.  

According to a statement of facts read out in court, Qatsiya was speaking loudly on the phone in the early morning hours of April 10. Schell was woken up, and he poured a bottle of liquor down the sink.


The spouse of South Baffin MLA Fred Schell has been sentenced to 12 months of probation for assaulting him. (CBC)

At that point, Qatsiya bit him on the back of his bicep. The court heard that after the bite, Schell pushed her away.

The couple's young children were in the home at the time.

Qatsiya originally pleaded not guilty in June, but moments before her trial was set to begin Monday afternoon she switched her plea to guilty.

She stated it was her own choice to switch the plea.

This is Qatsiya's third conviction for assaulting Schell. She will serve12 months of probation with conditions that she keep the peace and not drink in the home.

In court, Justice Robert Kilpatrick was critical of the Crown prosecutors' recommendation of 12 months probation. He added one day of jail to her sentence.

"If Ms. Qatsiya were a male, I don't believe the Crown would take this position," said Kilpatrick. "Repeated acts of domestic violence would normally be dealt with by way of a custodial sentence."

The judge told Qatsiya, "You're part of a much bigger problem," around domestic violence in Nunavut.

The charge against Fred Schell is scheduled to be spoken to on Dec. 3 in Iqaluit. Based on Qatsiya's guilty plea, the Crown must decide whether to proceed on a single count of assault, or stay the charge.