The British Colonist
April 13, 1869

It must have puzzled many of our readers, as it has undoubtedly been too much for our editorial acumen to discover, the purpose for which our present system of Government was instituted. They appear to have no desire to adapt our laws to the present requirements of the Colonists; they apparently discourage immigration, and they won't even protect industrious citizens against the savages, although the most ordinary precautions would prevent outrages of the most dreadful character.

Salt Spring Island is among the first of our East Coast dependencies. A number of farms have been located by industrious men who have brought them into a very high state of cultivation; every description of crop produces abundantly and peaches, plums etc. are fully equal to anything of the kind on the coast. The land on Salt Spring Island is valuable for its productiveness, but still more so from its easy communication by water with this city, where the produce can be disposed of at good prices but -- can it be credited? -- the Government declines to take the commonest precautions for the protection of the hard working settlers from murder and robbery. A tribe of Indians are located on the Island, who, failing any other kind of excitement, murder a settler now and then by way of a change, and carry off his property to the bush, where it is secreted till the little puff of a sensation is passed; the booty is then brought out and duly divided.

Such things have occurred three or four times, yet none of the murderers except "Dick," now in custody, have been brought to justice. The usual course has been to send a ship of war up to the vicinity; the ship proceeds to expend a quantity of powder and ball; a few boats' crews are sent ashore to endeavour to discover some of the stolen property. The results in each case, as may naturally be supposed, are quite futile; it would really have been better if the ship had never left her moorings.

It is well known that the perpetrators of all the robberies and murders, except Dick, are at large on the Island, and could be had if proper means were adopted for their capture. Such means are very simple: on the next visit of a ship of war let the principal men of the tribe that the robbers and murderers belong to be taken on board and held as hostages until the murderers are given up; but care must be taken that a competent interpreter be sent who can explain the objects of the expedition and the consequences of disobeying the law. Should this course be adopted it will be long ere similar outrages are reported on the Island. Let the ships save their powder and shot, unless utilized by destroying the Indian camps; and in every case let examples be made of these uncivilized wretches, that people may be protected who desire to be law-abiding and industrious.

Several of the settlers have already left the Island, and the others are seriously talking of doing so even at the sacrifice of all their property; one of them had cleared fifty acres of land previously covered with heavy timber and stocked with fruit trees and otherwise producing good crops. But what are fine farms and fertile land where life and property are in such peril? No advantage would repay the risk. To show the present feeling of the Indians towards the authorities: if Dick had not been removed when he was, an attempt would have been made by his tillicums to rescue him; and a plot is now on foot to substitute a slave boy for him in order to save his life. The settlement is of great importance to this city, and our Government is bound to see that the settlers are protected. To accomplish this end, prompt measures must be taken, and the delinquents secured, as they undoubtedly may be.

But in dealing out the merited punishment to these marauders, we must not forget that there may be more to learn than appears on the surface, and we think the proper mode of procedure would be to employ, at least temporarily, an Indian agent, who might go down and hear what the Indians had to say. A great deal of mischief may arise from some sense of injury which the natives imagine they have received from the settlers. If there should turn out to be a grievance, let it be at once redressed, so that the Indians may not conceive themselves wronged. Judging from the description of the present state of feeling amongst the natives, as related to us by a gentleman just down from there, some measures must be taken without delay, as from appearances, a general massacre of the settlers is within the scope of possibility. Should such a dreadful occurrence take place the authorities would certainly be held responsible.

Source: Editorial, British Colonist, April 13, 1869

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