Wife of murdered Métis hunter now facing new family challenges

Sarah Sansom is now working to help her daughter with incurable condition.

Sarah Sansom thought she was done with pain after she was told her husband Jacob had been murdered by two farmers.

But years after the shooting that took her husband Jacob and then trial, Sarah is now setting her sights on helping her daughter.

“Before he died, she was still able to dance,” Sarah says about her daughter Cierra. “She was still able to ride a bike. Over the last few years, it’s to the point where she cannot walk half a block. She falls over very easily. She loses her balance. She gets fatigued incredibly quickly, even walking up and down the stairs in our home.”

Cierra has been diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, an incurable degenerative disease that damages the spine, nerves and parts of the brain. It affects people’s ability to walk, can cause vision and hearing loss, affects speech and can damage the heart.

The condition will have her in a wheelchair in her 20s.

“Knowing she’s never going to dance, knowing she’s never going to ride a bike, her dreams of being a biologist in Australia … she can’t do those things anymore,” Sarah says.

Now, to ease the burden of walking, Sarah has ordered a wheelchair for her daughter.

“She’s a pretty strong kid,” says Sarah, “her biggest thing is she cannot wait for her wheelchair, so she can hang out with her friends again. She can go to the mall, she can go to the zoo. She can actually be mobile.”

A friend of Jacob’s created a GoFundMe page to help Sarah pay the bills. At the moment she’s working two jobs. But she says her physician told her to quit one of them.

“Already with the two jobs and all the hours I’m able to work, now I’m barely making ends meet,” she says. “And if I have to quit or even cut down in hours, it’s going to make it so I can’t make ends meet. With all these appointments and everything, I’m already exhausted. I’m done. How am I going to continue to work two jobs, take time off both jobs for all these appointments, court, everything else. Because I still have court.

We still have appeals. We still have parole board hearings.”

The family was first introduced to trauma in 2020 when Jacob and his uncle Maurice Cardinal were gunned down in rural Alberta by two farmers. Roger Bilodeau is serving a 10-year sentence for manslaughter. His son, Anthony, was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a life sentence with no chance at parole for 13 years.

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