Details from a royal commission inquiry that changed the face of Nova Scotia justice are now available online.
The wrongful murder conviction of Donald Marshall Jr. of Membertou in 1971 resulted in the appointment of a three-member royal commission panel that examined the prosecution.
The final report determined the justice system was rife with racism and failed Marshall at every point. Many of the report’s final recommendations were adopted including holding court sessions in Indigenous communities.
Marshall had been sentenced to life in prison but was released after 11 years as evidence mounted that his conviction was tainted.
The records from the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution are now available online thanks to the Nova Scotia Archives.
All of the records from the commission have been digitized including the seven-volume report on findings and recommendations, transcripts of all proceedings and interviews and audio recordings of Marshall Jr.'s testimony, given in Mi'kmaq. Marshall died in 2009.
"On behalf of the Marshall family, we are grateful to the treaty education office and Nova Scotia Archives for creating this inspirational resource that documents, in detail, the years of intense investigation and litigation that it took to free my brother from the injustices of his wrongful conviction and to restore our family's dignity and the honour of the Mi'kmaq Nation,” said David Marshall, family spokesperson.
The commission held extensive public hearings in Sydney and Halifax in 1987-88, accepting presentations from 114 witnesses and 176 exhibits. The commission completed its work in December 1989.
The online version of the full Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution,
can be found at: https://novascotia.ca/archives/marshall/.