Remembering Maurice and Jacob: Family members reflect after guilty verdicts

Loved ones of Maurice Cardinal and Jacob Sansom want them remembered for who they were – playful and supportive family men – and not how they died.

On Tuesday, two people were found guilty in the deaths of both Metis men, who were shot and killed in rural Alberta in 2020.

Cardinal and Sansom had set out on a hunting trip to harvest moose for their families.

On Wednesday, Sansom’s widow Sarah opened up to CTV News Edmonton about the night before he died.

“Jake was laying down, I was sitting in my rocking chair, and the three kids were sitting on him. And I remember looking across the room and just thinking how lucky I was to have a beautiful, loving family,” she recalled.

The next day brought news that her life, as she knew it, was over. Sansom and Cardinal were found dead on the side of a road near Glendon, Alta. on March 28, 2020.

“I had said goodbye to him for the last time. My family was gone,” she said.

Now, after an RCMP investigation and three week trial, the victim’s families have some answers but not exactly the ones they wanted.

Roger Bilodeau was convicted on two counts of manslaughter. His son Anthony Bilodeau was found guilty of second-degree murder for shooting Cardinal, but only manslaughter for the death of Sansom.

“When Jake was coming over to Anthony, he was shot. That is not a manslaughter, he had no weapons. That’s murder,” said Gina Levasseur, Sansom’s sister.

Family members also feel the way the Metis victims were portrayed throughout the trial was unfair. They are particularly upset with how a defense lawyer brought the victim’s alcohol consumption into the case.

“This is a person. A human being that had a family. Not a drunk savage, Nehiyaw (Cree person), or native, I can’t even say that, the Indian that people are portraying him to be,” Levasseur said.

She wants Sansom and Cardinal to be remembered for their kindness and humour.

“Uncle Morris was like the best uncle. He was the one that brought the food, the candy, the money,” Levasseur said.

“He’d dance in the kitchen and wiggle his butt and twerk with the kids. And you know, he was silly, he was fun, he was wonderful,” Sansom added about her late husband.

A date for a sentencing hearing for Anthony and Roger Bilodeau is expected to be set on June 17.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alison MacKinnon and The Canadian Press

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