Donald Marshall – a Mi’kmaq hero

I want to begin today with a brief tribute to Donald Marshall who died yesterday in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He was 55.

Marshall fought tirelessly for social and economic justice for aboriginal Canadians. His fishing rights case led the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold centuries’ old rights that Canadian and Nova Scotia politicians had stripped away. The struggle to reach a civil accommodation over the East Coast fishery among all groups continues, but Marshall’s activism forced a significant step in the recognition of historic collective rights and economic arrangements.

Donald Marshall achieved these political and legal successes after personally suffering a horrendous miscarriage of justice. Marshall was imprisoned for 11 year for a murder he did not commit. To emerge from prison to resume an active life in defence of his people fired with a steely determination to make a settler country grow up makes “Junior” a true hero in my eyes.

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