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HALIFAX – Donald Marshall, Jr., was a Mi’kmaw man wrongfully convicted of the murder of Sandy Seale in 1971 in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He spent 11 years in prison for murder, then was acquitted of all charges in 1983. However, grave oversights occurred during the initial Sydney Police investigation, the trial, the RCMP review, the appeal process, the 1982 re-investigation, the Reference process and at the Attorney General Department.
The Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr., Prosecution, a landmark report issued in 1989, found that the criminal justice system “failed Donald Marshall, Jr. at every turn”, and this was due, in part, to the “fact that Donald Marshall, Jr., is a Native”.
The report concluded with a series of recommendations to ensure that all levels of the criminal justice system, including police, attorneys, judicial bodies, and government, no longer fail to meet the minimum standards of justice for Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians.
Twenty years later, the CKDU News Collective explores the work of the Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network (MLSN), an organization formed to meet many of the policy recommendations as set out by the Marshall Inquiry.
The following is an interview with Barry Bernard, Communications Officer, and Donna Gauvin, Case Worker, of MLSN. The music was recorded at the Burnside Correctional Facility during an annual Cultural celebration for inmates organized by MLSN.