Records of Royal Commission on Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution Now Online
October 10, 2019
The wrongful conviction of Donald Marshall Jr. is a significant part of Nova Scotia’s history. Nova Scotians can now access the records of the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution online.
In 1971, Donald Marshall Jr., from Membertou, was wrongfully convicted of murdering Sandy Seale in Sydney’s Wentworth Park. Marshall was 17 years old when he received a life sentence for murder. He was exonerated by the royal commission in 1990 which determined that systemic racism had contributed to his wrongful imprisonment.
“This monumental digitization effort has achieved many objectives,” said Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc. “Besides being an important collection of research files, access to this material on the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Junior Prosecution helps us directly know our collective history and allows us to move towards meaningful reconciliation and, hopefully, forgiveness for the wrongs of the past.”
“I’m proud that the Nova Scotia Archives is making these vitally important and historic records more accessible to all Nova Scotians,” says Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine. “The lessons of the past are only learned by those who have knowledge of them.”
All of the records from the royal 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.
“The late Grand Chief, Donald Marshall and the Mi’kmaw Grand Council, believed in our Treaties. He instilled this in his family and in his son, Donald Marshall Jr.” Norman Sylliboy, Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaw Grand Council
“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’kmaw Nation”.
David Marshall, spokesperson for the Marshall family
- Donald Marshall Jr. was released on July 28, 1982 after 11 years and one month in custody
- an appeals court found that “no reasonable jury could, on that evidence, find Donald Marshall, Jr. guilty of the murder” and acquitted him
- the royal commission was struck on Oct. 28, 1986 to examine the case from investigation through trial, reinvestigation and appeal
- 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 digital version of the royal commission report was launched at the Nova Scotia Archives as it was hosting the visiting exhibit, Remembering, Honouring and the Way Forward: 10 Years After the Residential School Apology, from the Legacy of Hope Foundation
The online version of the full Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution, can be found at: https://novascotia.ca/archives/marshall/
Biographical information about Donald Marshall Jr. can be found on The Canadian Encyclopedia website at: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/donald-marshall-jr
Information on the travelling exhibit, Remembering, Honouring and the Way Forward, from the Legacy of Hope Foundation, is available at: http://legacyofhope.ca/project/10yearsafter/
On June 21, 2018, a new courthouse officially opened in Wagmatcook First Nation. The Court incorporates Indigenous restorative justice traditions and customs and Its creation is in line with a Marshall Inquiry recommendation calling for more provincial court sittings on reserves: https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20180621004
- Brett Loney
902-424-1593 Cell: 902-497-0269 Email: Bretton.Loney@novascotia.ca