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Greater Essex County District School Board
Building Tomorrow Together Every Learner, Every Day
Open Minds Program

Indigenous Student Achievement and Culture Program
We would like to extend a warm welcome to you and your child/children. This welcome is to ensure you are aware of the services and opportunities available to your child. GECDSB is dedicated to supporting the success of Indigenous learners and promoting an awareness of Indigenous culture and history for all students and staff. As a self-identified student your child may be entitled to extra academic support, cultural activities and other extra curricular opportunities through funding provided by the Ministry of Education.

FNMI Student Support Workers are available in both elementary and secondary schools to:
* work with individual students to increase academic and classroom success
* encourage the inclusion of Indigenous culture in schools to create a sense of belonging for our youth as well as bring awareness to the school community.
* work with parents to strengthen the home-school relationship

This program is available throughout the school year to ensure that all FNMI students have the opportunity to engage in the unique experiences offered by the Greater Essex District School Board. Individual school support will be differentiated based on student and parent interest. If you are interested in learning more about what is available to your child/children through this program, please feel free to contact us​.

The Open Minds Program is an Indigenous Student Achievement and Culture Program that targets:

Improve academic achievement among First Nations Metis and Inuit students.

The Individual
Increase First Nations Metis Inuit student well-being supporting the whole child – his or her cognitive, emotional, social and physical well-being

Increase parent engagement
Increase awareness and appreciation for Canada's Indigenous peoples and their rich histories, cultures, and perspectives

​Tina Decastro 
Teacher Consultant
Brieanne John
FNMI Support Worker
​​​Tyler White​
FNMI Support Worker​
K-12 Curriculum​


I arrived on Turtle Island as a young girl from Portugal with my family and was raised in a very traditional home where our language and culture was celebrated and honoured. It is my own personal goal to be a helper, so that this generation and future generations understand the historical and current events that have impacted the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on Turtle Island. I am extremely fortunate to work with a great team of individuals dedicated to improving the educational experiences of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students within our school board. I have been a teacher with the GECDSB for 18 years and have spent 6 of those years dedicated to Indigenous Education. In collaboration with the community, I provide staff and students opportunities to learn the true history of Turtle Island using authentic learning resources, experiences and Indigenous voices. I look forward to continuing to listen and learn from students, parents and guardians in order to do the work with an open mind and heart. 
Sheko:lí (Greetings), 
Kaliwahloluks in my Longhouse name, and I am part of the Ohkwa:lí (Bear) clan from the On^yota'a:ká  (Oneida Nation of the Thames First Nation). I am active in my culture and constantly growing my knowledge and understanding of both my own and other cultures. I am eager to continue learning what I can do to better assist my students and families. I have years of experience volunteering and working with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth where I was able to build relationships with them and their families. I look forward to continuing this work and nourishing a trust that will will allow parents and students to view me as somebody with their best interests at heart.  ​
​Boozhoo/Sheko:li (Greetings), I am an Oneida and Ojibwe from Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation). I am active in my culture, in both traditional and educational aspects. My educational background is law oriented but I have also always liked working with First Nations, Métis, & Inuit youth. I previously worked with the Walpole Island Secondary School Program as a First Nation, Métis, and Inuit student support worker for a high school aged students. ​

Together, we are committed to ensuring the success of all First Nation, Métis and Inuit students​