Sylvia Olsen was born and raised in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, on Canada's Pacific coastline. When sje was seventeen, she married an Indian, a member of the Tsartlip First Nations. Olsen has raised her four children within the Tsartlip community. She went to university at the age of 35 and obtained a Master's degree in history, specializing in Native/White relations in Canada. She now works in first nations community management and is conducting research with teen parents from the Saanich First Nations to increase the community's support network for young parents.
She has written several books for young readers about life within an Indian community ('White Girl' - 2004, 'Yetsa's Sweater' - 2006, 'Which Way Should I Go?' - 2007), educational problems facing young First Nations children ('No Time to Say Goodbye') and teenage motherhood ('The Girl With a Baby' - 2003, 'Just Ask Us' - 2005).