Welcome to my website
This is the place where all the pieces of my life come together. This is also the place where you can meet the individual bits of me. It’s where I can share my interests and express my concerns.
I was born and raised in a comfortably fixed, middle-class family in Victoria, British Columbia, the beautiful seaside city on the West Coast of Canada. I had an uneventful childhood spent mostly in the greenhouses where my family grew cyclamen, begonias, carnations, chrysanthemums and many (any) other flowers that my father loved. When I was a young teenager (15 years old) I fell in love and two years later (1972) I married Carl, a Coast Salish man. We moved to W̱JOȽEȽP, Tsartlip First Nation, where I lived for 35 years, raising my family, running several small businesses and working in the Tsartlip housing department.
This life-long, cross-cultural experience was the window from which I observed life. As a young girl I had questions about my country that most blond, blue-eyed Canadian teenagers hadn’t thought of yet. The key and abiding questions that have driven my life have always been the same. “How can this be, Canada? How can there be two worlds in one country…one for “Indians” (a vastly reduced and poverty-stricken one) and one for everyone else (a world of opportunity)? I will not stop asking these questions until the gap is closed between the living conditions of First Nations and mainstream communities, and until I find satisfying answers to my questions. That hasn’t happened yet.
Because of this intense life experience, in my writing and my art, I am interested in the space where people from different places come together and get along, or not. I’m interested in how the systems and structures of a place determine the life outcomes of the people who live there. I’m interested in how people are so very different and I’m equally as interested in the ways we are all so much the same.
My children Adam, Joni, Heather and grandchildren Yetsa, Madison, Reuben, Silas, Joey, Ella, Jack and Felix are all children of mixed race (Coast Salish, Pilipino, Swedish, British, ???). Joaquim de Castro Alves, a brother the family choose in 1990, is from Fortaleza, Brazil adding another cross-cultural dimension to our Olsen clan.
I got married the first time when I was 17 years old and the second time when I was 63. I now live in North Saanich (just a few miles from Tsartlip) with my new husband, Tex McLeod, a Canadian Scot, and Piper (a shortened version of Bagpipes), our little dog.