The man behind Canada’s highest-profile wrongful conviction case died Thursday morning, in a hospital in Sydney, N.S. Donald Marshall Jr., 55, was convicted in 1971 of murdering a friend in a Sydney park. At age 17, he received a life sentence for the crime. But in 1982, the RCMP reviewed the case and determined that he had not committed the murder—allowing Marshall to be cleared a year later. Still, it wasn’t until 1990 that a royal commission—in a seven-volume report—admitted that systemic racism had contributed to Marshall’s imprisonment. Marshall was a member of the Mi’kmaq First Nation. “The criminal justice system failed Donald Marshall Jr. at virtually every turn form his arrest and wrongful conviction for murder in 1971 up to and even beyond his acquittal by the Court of Appeal in 1983,” a report explained. Marshall, who was later a key figure in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 decision to extend aboriginal treaty rights to fish and Hunt, will be remembered for his contribution to First Nations across Canada. Marshall’s family says he was admitted to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital several days before he died because of complications from a 2003 lung transplant surgery.