The first settlers on Salt Spring Island were slaves who had bought their freedom (WITH VIDEO)

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In this episode of BC Was Awesome I travel to Salt Spring Island to hang out with Naidine Sims, a descendant of some of the first settlers on this Gulf island.

Sylvia Stark and her family made the trek to Canada over 150 years ago – on foot.

They bought their freedom from slavery in Missouri, then headed across the USA to California.

A few years later the Starks decided to head to Canada because of the prejudice that existed down south, and they walked nearly the entire way.

Meanwhile the governor of British Columbia, James Douglas, was trying to increase the population.

As Sims tells me “he wanted as many blacks as he could get” to move here.

The Starks first home in B.C. was in Victoria but they found that there were “too many people there” (there were 200 at the time), so they moved to Salt Spring, which they thought of as “paradise”.

Naidine passed away before we released this episode but we were able to show it to her on her death bed. The story of her family lives on here, through relatives, stories and the museum.

BC Was Awesome is a British Columbia history TV show co-produced by Vancouver Is Awesome and Artaban Productions. A book of the same name is set to be published in time for the province’s centennial celebrations in 2021. Watch all of the episodes for free on OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

Naidine Sims on Salt Spring Island. Screengrab