12/02/2011 09:03 EST | Updated 02/02/2012 05:12 EST

Eastmain Cree Send $30K Worth Of Goods To Attawapiskat


The First Nations community of Eastmain has sent 117 boxes full of dry goods and Christmas gifts to Attawapiskat.

About 1,800 people live in the northern Ontario community, where a severe housing shortage has forced families to live in tents and unheated trailers, some without access to running water and electricity.

An emergency housing crisis was declared about a month ago and the Red Cross arrived in the community on Tuesday to aid some families living in tents as temperatures plummeted to -20 C.

Fourteen-year-old Faith Tomatuk is behind the donations from Eastmain.

Her father, Clayton Tomatuk, remembers the first time she wanted to help people in Attawapiskat.

She was eight years old then, and there had been major flooding in the Northern Ontario Cree community just before Christmas.

He said Faith thought the children might be too busy dealing with the flood in their community to write to Santa Claus but that they should receive gifts anyway.

She said 'Well I got lots of Barbie dolls and I'm not even using them. And I got lots of clothes, some of them are brand-new, said Tomatuk.

This time, Faith and her father put up posters asking for donations from their community of 700 people.

Tomatuk said his house was full of donations within a few hours.

He said giving is part of the Cree tradition.

Way before, whenever the other community or camp needs help or food or territory, we always tend to help each other out, said Tomatuk.

He said they have collected more than $30,000 worth of winter coats, new toys and other donations.