Recent Grad Building Toward a Future in the Region
Elton Canaar Chanar, Leader from the Region
Storyknife, July/August 2023 edition
Elton Canaar Chanar, a Calista Shareholder from Toksook Bay, recently graduated and completed his second internship at Yulista Holding, LLC, Calista’s largest holding line based in Alabama. Chanar earned his Bachelor of Arts in Rural Development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in May. Additionally, he graduated with support from the Calista Education and Culture, Inc. scholarships. He minored in Alaska Native Studies with a focus on economic development and entrepreneurship.
“In economic development you review proposals and work to get jobs for rural Alaska,” Chanar says. “With my degree, I want to work at an organization that has a similar vision, mission and values, so I can be an asset to help rural Alaskans and rural communities.”
Chanar says housing is one of the main challenges that exist throughout villages in rural Alaska.
“It even happened when I was growing up,” Chanar says. “My parents were tired of waiting for the Tribe to fund the building of a new house for me and my siblings to have our own room.”
Chanar’s dad prepared to build his own house. He received carpentry and electrician certifications outside the village then moved back home. He worked up to save money and could eventually afford it.
“My dad’s example motivated me to pursue my education and a career in rural development,” Chanar says. “I wanted to find the root cause of these challenges, especially housing.”
This summer, Chanar interned with Yulista’s Marketing department in Huntsville, Alabama. Last year he worked in project management.
“I really liked it because I was familiar with all the projects,” Chanar says. “I’ve seen the project from beginning to end. From budgeting to proposal, I really liked working with the Missile Defense and Ground Support department at Yulista.”
All of Chanar’s training and work is coming full circle to working at home in Toksook Bay. His home ties it all together.
“My dad’s example motivated me to pursue my education and a career in rural development. I wanted to find the root cause of these challenges, especially housing.”Elton Canaar Chanar, Yulista Intern and Calista Shareholder
He grew up fishing and picking berries in the tundra of Western Alaska.
“My favorite subsistence memories are with my grandparents, parents and family,” Chanar says. “I remember riding up in the hills, on the tundra, and taking the boat to the ocean. We would go halibut fishing and clamming, then go camping for berries and then whitefish in the fall time.”
Chanar’s first language is Yup’ik. He learned in only Yup’ik from preschool to third grade, and then from third grade on, he learned in primarily English. To this day, he still comes back to his first language.
“My grandma would tell me, ‘If you do not understand something in English, switch it over to Yup’ik to see if you’ll understand it better,’” Chanar says. “When I was in university and received an assignment, I would switch it to Yup’ik to help grasp the concept a little better.”
The CECI scholarship program awards scholarships two times each year. The application deadline for the next Spring Term scholarship is due December 1, and the next Fall Term scholarship application is due June 30. Apply today!
The mission of Calista Education & Culture, Inc. is to celebrate and promote Yuuyaraq, the traditional/cultural way of being in the Calista Region which inspires and encourages our people to achieve their dreams through education.