Crowd gathers at Edmonton courthouse to support families of two slain Alberta hunters

A crowd of about 70 people gathered outside the Edmonton courthouse Tuesday to support the families of Jacob Sansom and his uncle Maurice Cardinal, both killed during a hunting trip in March.

Accused denied bail by court

Jacob Sansom's widow, Sarah, led a crowd during a ceremony in remembrance of the two slain men. (Stephen Cook/CBC)

A crowd of about 70 people gathered outside the Edmonton courthouse Tuesday, many bearing signs featuring the images of Jacob Sansom and his uncle Maurice Cardinal.

The two Métis men were on a hunting trip when they were shot and killed near Glendon, Alta., in late March. 

Anthony Bilodeau, 31, is one of two men charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection to the deaths. He appeared via teleconference at the Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday for a bail hearing.

The Métis Nation of Alberta had announced a group was gathering for a show of support for the two deceased men's families.

"The MNA is deeply troubled and concerned with reports of so many incidents with strong overtones of racism in various areas of Alberta," said a Friday post on the MNA website. 

"We want justice to be served for these two kind and generous men and their families."

The morning demonstration began with drums and prayer before friends and relatives shared memories of the two men remembered for their kindness.

Jake Sansom (left) and Maurice Cardinal were hunting near Siebert Lake not long before they were shot to death. They took this photo on the day they were killed. (Submitted by Mike Sansom)

Sarah Sansom, Jacob's widow, said the outpouring from the community has shown how beloved her husband was.

"It just proves how I knew how special Jake was," she said. "The messages and the hundreds of people that have reached out to me and sent letters and what he did for them and what he's done for their kids and what he's done for other people."

During court proceedings, which are subject to a publication ban, Bilodeau was denied bail for a second time.

Outside the courthouse, the decision's announcement was met with cheers and applause from those still present after the more than six hours since the early morning ceremony.

"We're relieved," Sansom told reporters. "I'll be able to sleep, I think, tonight. I'm done, I'm tired, I'm exhausted."

Jacob Sansom, 39, was married with three children. Cardinal, 57, had three stepchildren and five grandchildren. Sansom and his uncle had been out hunting for moose to help feed his family after being laid off as a heavy-duty mechanic at Suncor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural road confrontation

Police say two vehicles came to a stop on a rural road near Glendon, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, at 9:30 p.m. on March 27.

An argument between the occupants of the two vehicles turned into a physical confrontation before a third vehicle pulled up to the scene. That's when police say several gunshots were fired, killing Sansom and Cardinal.

Their bodies were found near Sansom's black pickup truck in the early hours of March 28.

Police have said the victims and the other people involved in the confrontation were not previously known to each other.

Anthony Bilodeau turned himself in at the Bonnyville RCMP detachment and was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in early April. More than a month later, RCMP said Roger Bilodeau, 56, was also arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

With files from Janice Johnston