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North Saanich author wins award for work in First Nations housing

Sylvia Olsen co-wins award from Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for her work on housing
Local author Sylvia Olsen, here seen with her son, local MLA Adam Olsen, is the co-winner of the Delta Kappa Gamma International Woman of Wisdom and Passion Award for British Columbia. The award recognized her work and writing on First Nations housing. (Contributed/Emily Olsen)

A local author has co-won an award for demonstrating “passion and wisdom” in the pursuit of improving the lives of others in their “community or in underdeveloped regions of the world.”

Sylvia Olsen of North Saanich recently joined Vancouver-based literacy advocate Sharon Davis in receiving the Delta Kappa Gamma International Woman of Wisdom and Passion Award for British Columbia.

Delta Kappa Gamma Society International promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education and B.C. DKG Woman of Wisdom and Passion Award honours women in the province who have demonstrated passion and wisdom in their pursuit to improve the lives of others in their community or in underdeveloped regions of the world.

The society’s announcement recognizes Olsen’s long history of working in and writing about the field of First Nations housing. A married-in member of the Tsartlip First Nation, Olsen has worked for the National Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure in the past.

She is a member of the B.C. Aboriginal Housing Committee, the B.C. First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council and First Nations National Housing Managers’ Association.

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According to the society, Olsen’s Ph.D. thesis titled Making Poverty: A History of On-reserve Housing Programs, 1930-1996 examines the role of the federal government in designing and perpetuating the ongoing housing crisis on First Nations reserves. Olsen has also worked with Vancouver Island University to develop a First Nations Housing management certificate program, teaching students across the country since 2015 in a Canadian first. Olsen has also written and won awards for more than 12 children’s and adult books.

Olsen is the mother of local MLA Adam Olsen.

The society recognized Davis for founding the Vancouver Chapter of Roam to Road, which focuses on literacy and gender equality, having impacted the lives of 18 million children in low income communities. Sharon’s involvement encompasses fundraising, community partnerships, leadership, donor management, digital marketing, and mentoring as the Vancouver Chapter has raised $4.5 million over 13 years.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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