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Monday , 3 August 2020
Crosses in memory of Morris Cardinal and Jacob Sansom were left at the site they were killed on Saturday after a small vigil.

Family of slain Metis hunters asks local leaders to address racism

Bonnyville town council will discuss on Tuesday

The mayor of Bonnyville said he and members of town council will meet with the family of Jacob Sansom and Morris Cardinal after a letter was sent to local leaders to address racism.

Seven recommendations were put forward in the letter sent to mayor Gene Sobolewski and mayor Laura Papirny of Glendon on July 1 to “begin change,” including banning all visible signs of racism, while developing intentional relationships with surrounding Metis and Indigenous communities.

The letter said a peaceful demonstration for justice will be happening in Bonnyville on Wednesday with a rally followed by an awareness convoy, but there has been no further details released.

The family said in the letter as previous members of the Bonnyville community, they can speak firsthand of racist experiences that forced them to leave the town out of fear for their safety.

“We have now lost dear members of our family in violent acts of murder in a community we left because of the inescapable experiences of racism. Many more have died because of racism in your community. This is a family, community, and institutional issue. You can be part of the solution,” the letter said.

The Town responded on July 3 with some of the efforts, including the rising of the Treaty 6 Flag last May, while denouncing discrimination.

Sobolewski said the Town is looking forward to having the conversation to understand where the family is coming from.

“We’re setting up a meeting to just basically get some clarification as to what’s meant. And clearly it’s unfortunate. And that’s why we sent out our letter just to clarify what the town is.

“We are definitely not in agreement with racists or racist profiling in any way, shape, or form, and we are going to be having a meeting with Lloyd [Cardinal], so it’s going to be great because it’s something that needs to be talked about.”

The Village of Glendon responded to the letter, saying there is always more that can be done to eliminate racism.

“While the Village of Glendon does not condone racism, we recognize that there is always more we can do to eliminate it. Thank you for the suggestion of reaching out to First Nations and Metis settlements. We are embarrassed that we have not done so in the past and wish to establish meaningful relationships with our neighbours in the future.

“We openly recognize that Glendon is mostly a homogenous Ukrainian community, we are committed to educating ourselves and would like to see more diversity in the individuals who choose to run for leadership.

RCMP said there is no indication of race being a factor in the homicides.

Anthony and Roger Bilodeau of Glendon are both in custody on second-degree murder charges and have been denied bail from the incident on Friday, March 27.

Town council will discuss the letter at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Letter sent to leaders

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.