Man convicted of manslaughter in the death of two Métis hunters granted unescorted absences from prison

RCMP says in parole documents that approving UTA will ‘display holes in the justice system.’

Roger Bilodeau

Sarah Sansom by family and supporters after the verdict on Anthony Bilodeau. Photo: APTN file.

The parole board of Canada has granted Roger Bilodeau, one of the men convicted of killing two Métis hunters in Alberta unescorted temporary absences, or UTAs for “personal development and family contact.”

These prison absences can be up to 72 hours long per month.

Roger Bilodeau, 59, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced in August 2022 to 10 years in the deaths of Jacob Sansom, 39, and his uncle Maurice Cardinal who was 57.  He was given a credit of 4.5 years for time served. This included additional time due to harsher conditions in custody during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Jan. 6, his son Anthony Bilodeau, 34, convicted of second-degree murder, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years for the deaths of Maurice Cardinal, 57, and his nephew, Jacob Sansom, 39.

The slayings took place in Glendon, Alta., about 200 km northeast of Edmonton.

Both men are appealing their convictions.

“I feel it is an injustice, a kick to the heart,” said Jacob Sansom’s mother Ruby Smith. “He had a part in taking my sons and brothers life. He is free, my son and brother are dead.”

Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal. Photo: APTN archives

Jacob Sansom’s wife Sarah Sansom told APTN she was “not happy” with the decision to grant Roger UTAs.

“I am actually pretty upset with the justice system and how they really don’t take victim’s feelings into account,” said Sansom.

In March 2020, the pair pursued Cardinal and Sansom for seven kilometres before shooting the hunters on the side of the road.

During the trial the men claimed Cardinal was armed, but the firearm police found in Cardinal’s truck the next day was unloaded and lying on the backseat.

The Bilodeaus left the shooting scene without calling the police or an ambulance. Something that Roger now calls “being selfish” according to the parole board.

Read more:

 Roger Bilodeau sentenced to 10 years for his part in Métis hunter slayings

‘It’s angering’: Family of Métis hunters killed in 2020 reflect on sentencing

Anthony Bilodeau later destroyed the gun used in the shootings and lied to investigators about having a rifle of that calibre.

During the trial, Justice Eric Macklin said the two men who were slain were “pillars of their community.”

According to parole documents, on Feb. 21, Roger Bilodeau was granted UTAs over the objection of the family of the slain hunters. According to the parole documents, he has already been on escorted absences from prison.

“The Board also recognizes that the victim’s family has requested you not be granted any form of early or unescorted release and have stated that doing so would lead to further trauma experienced by the family, who continue to wrestle with their loss and the perceived lack of accountability taken by you,” reads the report.

The RCMP also spoke out against Roger being granted UTAs.

“The local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) indicated strong opposition to the request to [redacted]. It is their opinion that should the public become aware of the release and potential unsupervised visits, it would show the community and all neighbouring communities of the injustice for the two victims. Further, it would create a greater divide within the area that is unnecessary and frankly display the holes in the justice system,” said the document.

APTN reached out to the Alberta RCMP for comment on this statement but they declined to further elaborate.

In its decision, the Parole Board of Canada said Roger has been assessed as a low statistical risk to reoffend.

The board also noted that Roger has a good network of social support outside prison and has already been on escorted temporary absences to attend church services.

“Your offences are directly linked to anti-social attitudes concerning law enforcement, and both poor decision-making and emotions management,” states the parolee board decision.

The board has imposed a no contact order on Roger Bilodeau, saying there is to be “no direct or indirect contact with any member of the victim’s family.’

Roger Bilodeau has also surrendered a DNA sample and had a lifetime ban on gun ownership as a part of his sentence.

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