Living with limited running water, 1 light bulb and a wood stove in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T.

Courtesy: Local News
Matthew Cotchilly stokes the fire in the wood stove in his living room, keeping the fire burning hot.
The heat keeps the house comfortable while snow blows outside against the windows. The stove was just installed two weeks ago. For 10 years before that, he didn’t have anything to keep the house warm. He’s one of the dozens of people in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., living in a house that many would find unfit to live in.
Cotchilly lives in the house his dad, John Cotchilly, built near the banks of the Mackenzie River in 1987. It’s been disconnected from the power grid, with the bathroom being the only room with running water. Heavy curtains cover the ill-fitting glass windows and doorways, keeping the cold out. A diesel generator powers a single light bulb and a small TV and DVD player, where Cotchilly watches Bruce Lee films. “This is the only place I could live in; I’ve been living here all my life. I want to stay here and try to fix it up,” he said. “It’s a good house, it’s a big house.” Cotchilly doesn’t describe himself as homeless. In fact, he invites other young people to stay with him when they have no place to go. There are about five or six who regularly come to visit.
Many families who do have a home often find themselves overcrowded. It’s not uncommon for two or three generations of the same family to live together. That leads to stress and tensions, which can boil over, especially when alcohol is involved, Tobak said. “We need to address the social side of things, and one way to do that is to make sure we have enough housing or places to stay,” he said, “To really give them a chance to look at their lives, and change it if they have to.” For Cotchilly, his dream is to turn his home into someplace nice. A place that he could even rent out while he goes out on the land to trap. But first, he needs help. “I want to build new ceilings, new walls. I wouldn’t mind some new flooring, I wouldn’t mind my bathroom fixed up and get back on the power,” he said. “I just need some materials. I’d like to fix up my home and make it liveable.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open chat