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August 15, 2009

P.E.I. Mi'kmaq mourn passing of an icon, CBC News, Thurs, August 6, 2009




Members of the P.E.I. Mi'kmaq community are mourning the man known as the reluctant hero of their First Nation.

Donald Marshall Jr. died early Thursday morning at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, N.S. The 55-year-old had been in intensive care with complications of lung transplant surgery.

Ricky Shok, vice-president of the Native Council of Prince Edward Island, called Marshall an icon.

"His plight to begin with, he was in prison wrongfully committed for murder, that really brought to light his story," Shok said.

Marshall's wrongful conviction in the death of Sandy Seale first brought him to public attention. Marshall was convicted in 1971 and exonerated and released from prison in 1982. But Shok said it was his later decision to fight a charge of illegal fishing that had the biggest impact on native peoples.

"For the aboriginal people of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the 1999 Supreme Court decision, allowing aboriginal people the right to hunt and fish, is extremely important," she said.

Marshall suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and received a double lung transplant in 2003.

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