Robinson, William
d. 1868
William Robinson emigrated from San Francisco, California, to Salt Spring Island, to live in a multi-racial settlement that had been established there, sometime around 1858/9, by a group of “free” African-Americans.1 Governor Douglas gave pre-emptive rights to the African-American colonists, allowing them acquire and cultivate land on Salt Spring and then later purchase the “provincial Crown lands” that they had “improved” at discounted rates.2
Robinson was a very devoted Sunday school teacher, who was reportedly planning to leave Salt Spring—to reunite with his wife—in the week before he was murdered in 1868 at his Vesuvius Bay cabin home.3 In 1869, Ich-yst-a-tis (also known as Tshuanahusset), a Hul'qumi'num-speaking Indigenous man, was arrested, convicted before an all-White jury, and then executed on July 24 for Robinson's murder.4 However, Ich-yst-a-tis's hand in the murder has been challenged by historians who have re-examined the evidence presented and withheld during the trial.5
Although three African-American men were murder on Salt Spring Island, from 1868-9, only Robinson's murder was “solved;” but, all of the murders were blamed on [Indigenous] people, fuelling indiscriminate suspicions toward, and contempt for, Indigenous peoples.6
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Douglas, James


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Saltspring Island

San Francisco