By Covenant House International
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we are proud to honor our native sisters and brothers working in Covenant House sites across the countries where we operate services for young people facing homelessness.
Audriana “Audri” Foss is from the Dena’ina and Yupik tribes from Pedro Bay, on Lake Iliamna, which is one of five of the smallest villages surrounding the largest North American freshwater lake in the United States. She moved from Seldovia and has been in Anchorage for the past six years.
Skill and Passion
Since 2017, Audri has been working in the Covenant House Alaska kitchen as a cook, prep cook and weekly meal planner since 2017. She also helps with paperwork and training youth interns on knife skills, cleanliness, panning up meals for the next day, and understanding kitchen lingo. Audri makes a lot of soup, which includes “making sure to keep up on chopping veggies,” she says.
Audri really enjoys working with large quantities of food. Ever since she was learning to cook her first egg with her mother at 8 years old, she has had the passion and drive to make food for everyone who needs warm, homemade meals. That led her to work at Covenant House. She said, “Being someone who loves cooking, I thought using my admiration for feeding people would make a great difference for the youth at Covenant House.”
Audri recalls working alone in the kitchen one night and making a large and filling dinner. After the meal, a resident asked her, “You made all this food by yourself?” Audri’s response was, “If you find a job you are passionate about, any job can feel easy and enjoyable. Just gotta find your passion.” She adds that it helps to “find that if others appreciate the work you do, then you’ve made it. But don’t stop, keep learning and growing and making yourself better!” Audri hopes these words encourage the young people at Covenant House Alaska to find jobs they love. When they specifically show an interest in cooking, Audri always encourages them and says, “If I can make enough food to feed 60-80 people, you can make it happen for your future.”
Last year, Audri was crowned the Fur Rondy Heritage Ambassador. Rondy is a 10-day winter festival celebrating life in Alaska through winter sports, Alaska Native arts and cultural events, and family activities. Audri wore her regalia, including a sash and headdress, for everyone at Covenant House to see, and even though the community was extra proud that day, they often remind Audri how much she is loved and respected for all that she does in support of our mission every single day.
When asked how it makes her feel to see the Covenant House community celebrate and honor Native American peoples and commemorate their histories and cultures on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Audri said, “I do appreciate having people learn and understand our culture and history through food and dance, or storytelling. Working in the kitchen I’ve always gotten excited to make my delicious homemade fry bread that I’ve been making all my life. Cooking for me is my way of telling my story, the experience and the techniques I’ve learned from those I’ve worked with before, or from those who share the same passion as mine.”
Audri’s passion for sharing her culture has definitely infused its way into the food she prepares for our youth. She says, “smelling the aromas that you create brings people together. Making happiness through cuisine has been a tradition for me all my life, including cooking food at potlucks in the village, for celebrations, or for the loss of a family member. Making food to share with everyone is a way to show love and compassion for others. And to share the food I can make for people is a tradition I’ll always keep close to my heart.”