Widow of Métis shooting victim speaks out against racism: ‘I shouldn’t have to defend them online when I’m grieving’

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WATCH ABOVE: Sarah Sansom from Nobleford, Alta., says she’s been seeing a lot of racist comments online targeting her husband Jacob and his uncle Morris Cardinal, who were shot dead in rural Alberta while hunting in March. Eloise Therien reports – Jul 23, 2020

A woman from Nobleford, Alta., is speaking out after witnessing what she describes as “racist and discriminatory” comments directed toward her late husband and his uncle, both of whom were shot and killed in March.

Jacob Sansom and his uncle Morris Cardinal, who are both Métis, were on a hunting trip near Glendon, Alta., when they lost their lives.

RCMP were called to the scene around 4 a.m. on March 28, and police later said the deaths were deemed to be homicides.

Sarah Sansom, Jacob’s wife, says community support for her family has been outstanding, but added she’s also been troubled by some negative comments.

“The support has far outweighed the negative, but there should be no negative,” she said on Thursday. “There should be no negative when somebody loses somebody they love.”

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Sansom said some of the comments questioned why the two men were in the area, if they were trespassing and if they were doing anything illegal. She said most of these comments originated from people in the area where the shooting happened.

“It is bad for racism up in that [area],” she said, adding that she and her husband moved to Nobleford in 2014 to separate themselves from the discrimination.

“Bonnyville, St. Paul, Glendon area, it’s known for that,” Sansom said.

Now she is organizing meetings with community leaders in the hopes of addressing racism and advocating for change with respect to harvesting rights.

“The agreement that was reached with the previous government years ago basically limited where Métis could harvest to a few hundred kilometres north of Calgary,” said Adam Browning, the president of the Lethbridge Métis-Alberta Association.

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Browning said this limitation makes hunting for southern Albertans more difficult, including for Jacob,  who had to drive around 700 kilometres from home to hunt.

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“Some of our community members have to travel hundreds of kilometres to practise their rights to hunt safely,” he said.

Lloyd Cardinal, a cousin to Morris and Jacob, says he hopes to see a shift in the “us and them mentality,” especially in the Glendon area.

“I’m basically just advocating and trying to find and seek solutions to address the issue within that community, but also to develop and create relationships with the mayor and people within leadership so we can have those conversations,” he said.

A rally was held earlier this month to honour the two men who were killed. Another is planned for July 29 in Edmonton.

Roger Bilodeau, 56, and Anothony Bilodeau, 31, are facing second-degree murder charges in relation to the deaths.

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