Trailbreaker visits Yellowknife's brand new École Įtłʼǫ̀ elementary school

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Loren McGinnis, host of The Trailbreaker, will broadcast live from École Įtłʼǫ̀ in Yellowknife Friday.  (Loren McGinnis/CBC - image credit)
Loren McGinnis, host of The Trailbreaker, will broadcast live from École Įtłʼǫ̀ in Yellowknife Friday. (Loren McGinnis/CBC - image credit)

The Trailbreaker will broadcast live from Yellowknife's brand new École Įtłʼǫ̀ elementary school on Friday, hearing from students, educators and — most importantly — the students who are kicking off the new school year.

Also new this year is a Wıìlıìdeh language class, taught by longtime educator Shirley Desjarlais.

"I feel really excited to see the lights turn on and the excitement in their voice[s]," she told The Trailbreaker.

"The key to my being in the education field for so long is that I really enjoy the fact that we are trying to preserve our language."

Rachel Zelniker/CBC
Rachel Zelniker/CBC

Desjarlais said she'd love to see language immersion programs in all schools in the territory.

Įtłʼǫ̀ is the first new school to be built in the capital in 20 years, according to a joint news release from the N.W.T.'s education department and Yellowknife Education District No. 1.

Previously known as J.H. Sissons, the name Įtłʼǫ̀ comes the Wıìlıìdeh word for cranberry. That's because the school sits on what used to be a common berry-picking area for Wıìlıìdeh Yellowknives families.

The new school includes 18 classrooms for junior Kindergarten to Grade 5 students, as well as a food room, a music space, a project studio, a larger gym and — as in the old school that École Įtłʼǫ̀ replaced — a centrally located library at the heart of the school.

Artwork by Chipewyan Dene artist John Rombough that was originally installed on the exterior of J.H. Sissons now hangs on the interior east wall of the library.