The legality of the Commission is analysed within the context of the deep-rooted racism that led to the unjustified imprisonment of Donald Marshall. In the course of recounting this incident, the authors take on a broader perspective and look at the implications of both the imprisonment, and the Commission. Included in this book is a thorough overview of reasons and procedures of the Commission, as well as the ways in which this incident is representative of the racist legal consciousness regarding Aboriginal peoples. The book concludes with further evidence of this legal consciousness and its contribution to the violation of Aboriginal human rights.
In The Marshall Decision and Native Rights Ken Coates explains the cross-cultural, legal, and political implications of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Donald Marshall case. He describes the events, personalities, and conflicts that brought the Maritimes to the brink of a major confrontation between Mi'kmaq and the non-Mi'kmaq fishers in the fall of 1999, detailing the bungling by federal departments and the lack of police preparedness.
Author : Ken Coates is the dean-elect of the College of Arts, University of Saskatchewan and the author of many books on Canada's aboriginal peoples. He has advised governments in Canada and New Zealand on land claims and is a frequent commentator on aboriginal issues.
When a black teen was murdered in a Sydney, Cape Breton park late one night, his young companion, Donald Marshall Jr., became a prime suspect. Sydney police coached two teens to testify against Donald which helped convict him of a murder he did not commit. He spent 11 years in prison until he finally got a lucky break. Not only was he eventually acquitted of the crime, but a royal commission inquiry into his wrongful conviction found that a non-aboriginal youth would not have been convicted in the first place. Donald became a First Nations activist and later won a landmark court case in favour of native fishing rights. He was often referred to as the "reluctant hero" of the Mi'kmaq community.
This timely and original work intersperses close analysis of the 1726 treaty with discussions of the Marshall case, and shows how the inter-cultural relationships and power dynamics of the past, have shaped both the law and the social climate of the present. The author argues that the treaties must be viewed in their historical context, and that of the oral tradition of Mi'kmaq people, to be properly understood.
Current high-profile legal cases involving aboriginal rights lend this work a special significance among the legal and academic communities, where it is destined to spark debate. It is of particular relevance to history and native studies students.