École J.H. Sisson School Rebuild and Geotechnical Study Results

Yellowknife — January 4, 2019
News Releases

The results from a geotechnical study contracted by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) on the École J.H. Sissons School site have been received. The study concluded that the original site, where the school currently stands, is the most viable and stable location for both current and future use. The Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), Caroline Cochrane, has accepted this recommendation. Both the recommendation and the decision have been conveyed to the board.


Following a public meeting with parents and stakeholders in March 2018, the Yellowknife District No. 1 (YK 1) board voted to explore potential alternate sites for the new school on the J.H. Sissons property. As the GNWT is responsible for constructing school infrastructure, it contracted a third party to conduct a geotechnical assessment of three sites on the J.H. Sissons property. Core samples, height of water table and ground stability were assessed for the three sites.


Now that a decision has been made to proceed with a rebuild on the existing site, the project can begin. The planning study will be finalized and construction will begin in August 2020, with an expectation of a two year construction period.


École J.H. Sissons School was built in 1975, and the current project was originally planned as a retrofit through the GNWT capital planning process. The decision was made to rebuild the school owing to significant wear and tear on the building and growth in the school population. The scope of the estimated rebuild adds four new classroom spaces and a larger community gymnasium (468 square metres or 5038 square feet) to the current complement of school spaces.


There will be a public meeting with a presentation of the geotechnical study results on Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the École J.H. Sissons School gym.


“The Department of Education, Culture and Employment works with our partners in education to provide safe and caring schools that meet the needs of teachers and students in the NWT. École J.H. Sissons School in Yellowknife has been a much-loved community institution for many years, but it is at the end of its useful life.  Rebuilding on the existing site will give residents a brand-new school that will meet the needs of students long into the future.”

-Caroline Cochrane, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment


“Thank you to the GNWT and the Legislative Assembly for the approval and planning for a multi-year project for a new school to serve the community of Yellowknife for the next 50 years.  YK1 will formally consider the results of the geotechnical study and the Minister’s decision at the January 8 YK1 Board meeting.”

-John Stephenson, Chair, Yellowknife Education District No. 1 Board


Quick facts


  • The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is responsible for the construction of new schools, colleges, community learning centres and libraries across the NWT.
  • YK1 is responsible for ongoing maintenance and operation of schools within its district.
  • The construction of the school is expected to take two years, from August 2020 to August 2022.
  • École J.H. Sissons is currently at 109% capacity.
  • The full geotechnical study will be available on both www.ece.gov.nt.ca and www.yk1.nt.ca following the public meeting on Thursday, January 10, 2019.


Related links



For more information:

Jacqueline McKinnon

Manager, Communications and Public Affairs

Department of Education, Culture and Employment

T: 867-767-9352 x 71073

E: jacqueline_mckinnon@gov.nt.ca