The IB&M Initiative: Reflections on 20 Years

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African Nova Scotians, Justice Denied, the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr., Prosecution [Marshall Commission Report], 1990 Special Edition of the Micmac News, Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative, Schulich School of Law


I was asked to submit a brief article to the Society Record highlighting the 20th Anniversary of the Indigenous Blacks & Mi’kmaq (IB&M) Initiative at Dalhousie Law School. Not long after that request, Donald Marshall, Jr. passed away. I had hoped that Mr. Marshall might be able to attend our 20th Anniversary celebrations, however, we will still include him by honouring his sacrifices and legacy. So upon reflection, and rereading the book Justice Denied, the report of the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr., Prosecution [Marshall Commission Report] and the 1990 Special Edition of the Micmac News, the original focus of this article changed. These sources provided a glimpse into the experiences of Donald Marshall, Jr., a Mi’kmaq man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and imprisoned for 11 years; and Sanford (Sandy) Seale, a promising young African Nova Scotian who was killed during the same initial incident. Both men were from loving and hard-working families. I cannot say with certainty whether the IB&M Initiative would have been created were it not for the Marshall Commission. I can say that Mr. Marshall’s experience and the resulting Commission contributed significantly to the development and ongoing support of the IB&M Initiative. Recommendation 11 of the Marshall Commission Report states: We recommend that the Dalhousie Law School’s minority admissions program for Micmacs and indigenous Blacks receive the financial support of the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Bar.1 Consequently, the IB&M Initiative collectively “stands on the shoulders” of Donald Marshall, Jr., Sandy Seale and the supporters and allies who continue to believe in justice.


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