By Laura Mushumanski
(ANNews) – The Indigenous way about hunting is always making sure the freezer is stocked and there is enough mîciwin (food) to go around to feed our relatives. And when the Métis-Cree men, Jacob Sansom and his uncle Morris Cardinal went hunting for moose on March 27, 2020 near Bonnyville, Alta., they had every intention of bringing home wild meat to feed their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Sansom’s wife, Sarah, did not hear from Jacob on the evening of March 27th, she began to worry. On the morning of March 28th, 2020, approximately 4 a.m., both bodies later recognized as Sansom and Cardinal were reported found north of Glendon, Alta., 225 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, with several gunshot wounds.
The two men that shared a close kin relationship, regularly exercised their Métis rights to hunt on the land responsibly and sustainably by supporting their families. They bonded over hunting and preserving an essential part of Indigenous culture; both men were manâtisiwin (respectful) towards the animals they hunted for nourishment and utilized the entire animal, similar to how our wahkomâkanakwak (ancestors) respected the buffalo and all living things. Sansom and Cardinal were Métis Nation of Alberta citizens, practiced cultural traditions and were charismatic men towards their families and fellow community members.
Sansom’s wife and three children, aged 8, 11 and 13, are left to mourn the loss of their father and great uncle.
Samson was known for his optimism. In a 2017 video from Sansom’s Facebook page, his lust for life was captured with him sharing his worldviews that, “we should be part of each other. We should be living in this world together, not separate.” The 39 year old, Sansom, also worked as heavy duty mechanic, recently being laid off during COVID, and volunteered for his local fire department, the Nobleford fire department in the town where his immediate family resided, Nobleford, Alta.
Speculations circulating around the death of both Indigenous men, seem to be tied to the deeply rooted history of racism within Canada.
The beginning of June, Roger Bilodeau, 56, was charged with second degree murder, and his son, Anthony Michael Bilodeau, 31, awaits trial to take place after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder for the deaths of Sansom and Cardinal.
As mentioned in a recent Star news report, a connection between Sansom and the older Bilodeau man has been made. Sansom worked in DLM Oilfield Enterprises mechanic shop located in Bonnyville, Sansom’s hometown, with Bilodeau back in 2014, and remained employed with the company up until the time of his death.
The investigation report of the murder of both Sansom and Cardinal state that there was an altercation that led to their deaths seven hours before their bodies were reported found by Bonnyville RCMP. In the report shared with the public, there seemed to be an argument that ended in a physical fight, and shortly after a third vehicle approached the scene and brutally shot Sansom and Cardinal to their death.
Rural communities within Alberta seem to have a lasting negative attitude that stems from a time when cultural assimilation began on Turtle Island. These attitudes have lead to discriminatory behaviours and bodies being found with unresolved murder investigations. Seemingly, the murder of Sansom and Cardinal align with the hostile behaviours that are repetitively being acted upon in an unjust manner and to question why, in the year 2020, are dehumanizing behaviours still undermining an Indigenous person’s Human Rights?
There has been a GO FUND ME webpage setup on behalf of Jake’s family, to financially support Samson’s widow, Sarah, and their three children.
Laura Mushumanski is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with Alberta Native News.