Shoot­ing deaths of Métis hunters baf­fles wife

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Sarah San­som didn’t think she had any rea­son to worry when her hus­band and his un­cle ven­tured into the woods to go moose hunt­ing.

Jacob San­som, 39, and Mau­rice Car­di­nal, 57, were found shot to death on a ru­ral road in north­ern Al­berta two months ago.

The younger man’s widow still can’t fathom why.

“There’s noth­ing that these two men could have done to jus­tify dy­ing over,” Sarah San­som said in an in­ter­view from her home in Noble­ford in south­ern Al­berta.

“It just makes no sense.” San­som said her spouse was born and raised north­east of Ed­mon­ton around Bon­nyville, and his fam­ily has had a trapline in the area for al­most a cen­tury.

“You could blind­fold him and walk him into the mid­dle of the bush ... and he would find his way back in­stantly,” she said.

“I rarely wor­ried about him hunt­ing out there.”

Jake and Sarah San­som were high school friends who re­con­nected in their 20s and fell in love. They were to cel­e­brate their 10year an­niver­sary this sum­mer and re­new their vows.

San­som said her hus­band was a su­per­hero to their son Daylen, al­most 9, and daugh­ters Ad­di­son, 11, and Cierra, 13.

The kids wanted him at friends’ birth­day par­ties and at show-andtell at school. The girls would gig­gle and call their burly, tat­tooed dad “princess” when­ever he per­formed a silly song and dance.

San­som said her hus­band ac­com­plished any­thing he set his mind to, even if he didn’t suc­ceed right away.

He was tal­ented at ju-jitsu and vol­un­teered as a fire­fighter.

He wrote a young adult sci-fi novel that his wife wants to pub­lish posthu­mously.

He could sketch any­thing. San­som re­mem­bers when they were dat­ing, he deftly drew a rose in pen on a pub nap­kin in min­utes. He was deeply con­nected to his Metis-cree her­itage and knew how to heal with tra­di­tional medicines. An elder had been train­ing him to be­come a pipe holder.

San­som said her spouse was frus­trated with how much hate and anger there was in the world.

“He wanted to change how peo­ple treated each other.”

Jake San­som and his un­cle were al­ways close, she added.

The younger man would have to re­mem­ber to put his phone on silent at night be­cause Car­di­nal liked to call at 5 a.m. ev­ery day — and keep call­ing un­til his nephew woke up.

Jake San­som op­er­ated heavy equip­ment for a com­pany con­tracted by Sun­cor En­ergy.

When he was laid off at the start of the COVID-19 pan­demic, his wife said he was re­lieved be­cause be­ing away from his fam­ily for twoweek shifts was tor­ture.

But fi­nances were tight, so Jake drove seven hours north to hunt moose with his un­cle near Bon­nyville, where the fam­ily has hunt­ing rights.

They would be able to stock their freezer with meat and share with other rel­a­tives. Noth­ing would be wasted.

His wife said she woke up wor­ried on the morn­ing of March 28 when she hadn’t heard from him.

RCMP have said the oc­cu­pants of two ve­hi­cles got into a fight the night be­fore, then a third ve­hi­cle ar­rived.

The two men were found dead out­side a parked truck the next morn­ing near Glen­don, about 30 kilo­me­tres west of Bon­nyville.

An­thony Bilodeau, a 31-year-old from Glen­don, faces two counts of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der. A date for his jury trial has not been set.

San­som said the first she had heard of Bilodeau was when RCMP an­nounced the charges against him.

She doesn’t know whether racism was at play. She can’t imag­ine her hus­band or Car­di­nal would have tres­passed, given their fa­mil­iar­ity with prop­erty own­ers in the area.

She said po­lice have told her lit­tle, but as­sured her that the vic­tims did noth­ing wrong.

San­som said her kids have slept in her bed­room ev­ery night since they lost their dad.

“They just don’t feel safe in their home any­more.”

San­som said she didn’t have it in her to at­tend a tra­di­tional cer­e­mony this week­end on the spot where the two men were killed.

“I’m just not ready to see where he took his last breath.”

When San­som is feel­ing less over­whelmed, she said she wants to start a foun­da­tion in her hus­band’s name to teach kids ju-jitsu and keep them out of trou­ble.

“I think that would make him proud.”

The Cana­dian Press

DAVID ROS­SITER/ THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Sarah San­som and chil­dren, from left Ad­di­son, 11, Cierra, 13, and Daylen 8, pose at their home in Noble­ford.

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