Sonya was born and raised in the Village by the Cliff - Hoonah, Alaska, and enjoyed her childhood running through the forests and scouring the beaches. Her connection to what is now the site of Icy Strait Point, runs as deep as the waters of Icy Strait, itself. Sonya’s Norwegian grandfather was the Captain of the Point Sophia, a fishing tender for the Hoonah Packing Co., making the cannery home to his young family. Cpt. Dybdahl’s final resting place is still where his heart always was; right here at the Point.
Sonya is also a Raven of the Ta’akweinadi (Sea Lion House), and has been involved with her culture and served her community in many capacities; as an educator, volunteer and advocate. “ I believe that our Tlingit people are natural leaders and will be the ones that lead Icy Strait Point , as a model of balance and ingenuity, to see many years of success . For true leadership is born from the traditions of our culture and lives in the strength and resiliency of our people. ”
Although having lived outside of her beloved village at different times throughout her life, she claims, “I like to think I am just like the salmon…I may leave, mature a bit.. but I, too, always return to my stream.” And true to form, Hoonah is where Sonya decided to raise her family, running the span of forests and beaches as freely as she did.
After pulling her first King Salmon ashore at the age of 12, fishing has always been a favorite pastime and “pulling up the bottom of the ocean” –aka VERY LARGE HALIBUT – has become her obsession. Sonya has discovered a new way to be close to the water and that is kayaking the bays and inlets of the surrounding area. She admits that she is doing her best to learn that whales have the right of way. Always.