The First Nation of Attawapiskat is making progress on the housing crisis according to the band, but for those in make-shift housing it doesn't quite feel that way.

Robin Kataquapit, 25, lives in a small backyard building with her two children and husband.

The small structure was built over a year and a half ago by the First Nation to help get Kataquapit and her family out of a house they shared with 15 other people.

Despite the fact it is a step up for the family, they are not happy there.

"We call it a shed," Kataquapit said. "It's kind of hard. There's no running water here."


Robin Kataquapit has doubts she and her family will ever get a proper house. (Erik Whiite/CBC)

Kataquapit and her family are on the list to get a new house but she's not holding out much hope.

"I don't think I'll get any house in the future," she said. "There's no help."

Newly re-elected band Chief Theresa Spence — also famous for her hunger strike in January — says there are plans for 10 new homes in the works.

"I think it gives hope to people, just seeing 10 houses built," Spence said. "I think it gives them hope and relief."

Spence, 49, beat three contenders in the band council election Tuesday, winning another three-year term in the remote James Bay community in northern Ontario.

Still in temporary housing

About 74 other people in Attawapiskat are still living in construction trailers on the edge of town, which were meant to be temporary arrangements in dealing with the severe overcrowding that was brought to national attention in 2011 when the band declared a state of emergency due to poor housing and a severe drop in temperatures.

Ernie Paulmartin, 30 — who lives with his girlfriend and three children under the age of four in an old construction trailer — says he will not hold out hope for the houses until he sees them.


Robin Kataquapit, her husband and two children live in this backyard structure they call a shed. (Erik White/CBC)

"Nothing really happens every year," Paulmartin said. "They say they're going to build houses every year, but nothing happens."

Band housing manager Monique Sutherland sees many frustrated people come through her door with concerns but remains optimistic that things are still improving.

"Things are looking up," Sutherland said. "I give it about 10 years."

The community has received $2 million in extra funding for housing from the federal government and plans to build the 10 new homes next winter.