Social Movement & Global Citizenship

Social Movement workshop

In 2015, I won a fellowship from International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) for developing a curriculum unit titled “Community Organizing & Mobilization for Successful Civil Resistance”. I developed this curriculum unit to complement the course titled “Power and Social Movement” that I teach at Centennial College. ICNC fellowship inspired me to share my knowledge on civil resistance not only in a Canadian education institution but also with an indigenous community of Bangladesh who are struggling to secure their fundamental human rights.

Dr. Hasan, Ukil Murmu and Mikhael Soren at Martyr Monument of 1952 Language Movement. Bangladesh.
Dr. Hasan, Ukil Murmu and Mikhael Soren at Martyr Monument of 1952 Language Movement. Bangladesh.


Hasan while living with Santal Community during 2000-2002.
Hasan while living with Santal Community during 2000-2002.

Centennial College is committed to transformative learning and it inspires students to become global citizens. I am so pleased to work with Centennial College. Here I have the opportunity to share my stories of working with various communities across the globe. I encourage students to share their experiences. All these learning approaches make our learning environment very inclusive, interesting, engaging and life oriented.

In 2000-02, I conducted a study with the Santal community, the second largest indigenous community of Bangladesh. While living with the community, I observed the struggles of this community. They often face discrimination in education and employment due to their indigenous identity. Most of the Santal community members are landless and the local dominant group and musclemen grabbed their ancestral land. You may see my publication at

Social Action Project by the Students of Centennial College. Photo Source: SSW Facebook page.
Social Action Project by the Students of Centennial College. Photo Source: SSW Facebook page.

During my study, I received tremendous support from the Santal youth and community members. I participated in various community events and rituals of the community. I observed their resistance against various forms of marginalization and discriminations. I shared these stories with my students at Centennial College and informed them that when the students would work with social action project assignments, at the same time I would organize a workshop on social movement and nonviolent strategy with an indigenous community in Bangladesh. In this regard, I had few telephone conversations with Mikhael Soren who is an indigenous community leader and works with youth for indigenous peoples’ rights in the Rajshahi district of Bangladesh. We jointly planned and delivered a workshop titled “Indigenous Community Rights and Social Movement: Rethinking Strategy for Community Education, Mobilization and Social Media” which was held on November 20, 2015. When the students organized gallery walk on Dec 02, 2015, I also shared with them about my learning and sharing experience with Santal Community on social movements and civil resistance. You may wath a video on the Social Action Projects organized by Centennial students at

Social Movement Workshop Report

Mikhael Soren facilitating a session on Social Movement
Mikhael Soren facilitating a session on Social Movement

The daylong workshop was attended by total of 23 indigenous youth who were mostly students. The workshop was facilitated by Mikhael Soren and Himel Hasda, and I participated in the introductory session via phone from Canada. Mikhael sent me a workshop report in Bengali (click here to view). I am going to translate the key content of the report which has very important elements for understanding the challenges of indigenous people and how they are strategizing for social movements to realize their rights

Workshop Objectives

  1. Identify problem and challenges faced by the indigenous communities living in the North-west part of Bangladesh
  2. Discuss strategies for community organizing and education
  3. Identify strategies for protesting against discrimination, land grabbing, violence and corruption
  4. Discuss the importance and strategies for developing relationship with local community leaders, elected representatives and government officials
  5. Discuss strategies for social media

Introduction of the Workshop Report

  • 3 million people from 45 indigenous communities live in Bangladesh
  • Santal indigenous community mainly lives in the North-western parts of Bangladesh
  • Indigenous communities have their own youth, women and student associations
  • One of the major demands is that the State should recognize them as “ Indigenous People” not as “Ethnic Minority”
  • Indigenous people organize workshop, seminar, rally, human chain, demonstration etc. for their securing their ‘identity’ and ‘rights’. This workshop on “Indigenous Community Rights and Social Movement” is part of this process

High Lights of Dr. Hasan’s SpeechTeaching

  • Hasan started discussion by acknowledging the support he had received from the Santal community during his M. Phil research (2000-2002). He is ever grateful to the community
  • He informed the participants that indigenous communities across the world have been facing some common challenges (identity, land, livelihood etc.)
  • He gave example of Idle No More campaign that was initially started by only four indigenous women of Canada in 2012 and now it has engaged over 100 thousands people in the movement. Idle No More campaign has been successful to raise voice and influence policy makers
  • Hasan emphasised on social movements by using nonviolent strategies and tactics in order to fight against discrimination and oppression
  • He emphasized on community education and mobilization, and relationship building with local leaders, elected representatives and government officials.
  • Hasan encouraged youth to study hard so that they can work in leadership and policy making roles and lead the country

Speech of Dr. Hasan (in Bangla) can be found at: (coming soon)

Key findings from the group presentations:

Problem & Challenges facing by the indigenous communities:

  1. Hunger, unemployment, land grabbing by local musclemen, corruption by/lack of confidence on administration and extinct of indigenous culture
  2. 80% people depend on agriculture and most of them are agricultural labourers. But there is scarcity of water for irrigation in the Barind region As a result, people are becoming more unemployed/have lack of income which ultimately affect the livelihood and education of indigenous children and youth
  3. Exploitation by micro credit agency in the name of poverty eradication
  4. Conversion in Christianity giving the hope for employment
  5. Harassing indigenous community people by doing false cases with the help of some corrupt officials

Strategy for addressing the above problems and securing their rights

Youth of Santal indigenous community preparing for their group presentation.
Youth of Santal indigenous community preparing for their group presentation.
  1. Indigenous communities to be organized and united against all forms of oppressions. For this, there is a need to be organized at grassroots, and inspire and engage students of school and colleges
  2. In order to organize new generation, seminar, workshop and youth gathering need to be developed and delivered
  3. The Kakonhat Students Association, the organizer of this workshop, must work towards organizing youth and indigenous people
  4. The events such as workshops and seminars should take place on weekends – need financial support

Strategy for resistance against oppression (discrimination, violence, land grabbing and corruption)

  1. Resolve conflicts within the indigenous communities, especially related to community leadership. The dominant groups take advantage of such conflict
  2. Organize rally, submitting petitions to administrators
  3. Use of electronic and social media as a tool for protest

Building relationships with local government, administration, local leaders

  1. Although indigenous communities have relationships with local administration, elected representatives, NGO leaders and local community leaders, they often neglect indigenous people.
  2. Indigenous people faces harassment by the above people.

Outcome and Evaluation of the workshop

The youth are very interested to connect with global community through social media and online tools.
The youth are very interested to connect with global community through social media and online tools.
  1. Participants are very happy to see that indigenous community rights issues of Bangladesh are discussed in a Canadian education institution with a Bangladeshi -Canadian helping to organize this workshop
  2. Indigenous community youth were very thrilled to participate in a teleconference with Dr. Hasan which was their first experience
  3. Youth came to know about indigenous peoples’ rights movement of Canada (Idle No More) and its success stories
  4. In future, youth prefer to have video conference system which requires to purchase hi speed internet modem
  5. The workshops agenda were important but due to time constrains all topics were not discussed in detail.
  6. Lack of workshop materials due to limited budget
  7. Need for support in education and part –time employment for indigenous youth
  8. Support the dropped out students through skill training
  9. Financial and technical support to organize youth and indigenous community

Action Plan and Commitment from Dr. Hasan

Based on my conversation with indigenous youth and students, I have committed to arrange and offer the following support in 2016:

  1. Share ideas and online resources, and provide financial support to organize a total of 6 events such as workshops, community meetings, rallies etc.
  2. Help to purchase Hi speed internet modem for facilitating learning and sharing through video conference, online and social media tools
  3. Provide financial support for two youth to receive training on photo and video editing
  4. Provide technical support to develop website and social media platforms
  5. Offer employment counselling to the youth, and connect them with local and national levels employers
  6. Advocate with local, national and international development agencies to support indigenous community initiatives and create employment opportunities.
  7. Connect international students, education institutions and non-profit organizations with the indigenous community initiatives of Bangladesh for promoting global citizenship, equity and social justice.

Let us show our solidarity and support to the social movements across the world.

Let us promote learning and sharing across the globe to fight against poverty and injustice.

If you want to be a part of indigenous community rights movement of Bangladesh, please contact me at or Mikhael Soren at


Our upcoming events in 2016

Workshop Theme 1: Community Education on Rights and Responsibilities

  • Understanding constitutional and human rights (education, accessing services, women rights)
  • Local Govt. services and responsibilities of indigenous community
  • Importance of social movement and engagement of students
  • Developing strategy and messages for community education

Friday, Jan 30, 2016 (rescheduled on Feb 19, 2016)

Participants: 40 Indigenous students

Place: Pakri UP Hall Room, Godagari, Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

Time: 10am to 4.30pm

Facilitators & Speakers:

  • Anwarul Islam, Chairman, # 3 Pakri Union (Local Govt.), Godagari, Rajshahi
  • Babulal Murmu, Santal Community Leader, Sundorpur
  • Mikhael Soren, Kakonhat Student Association

Workshop Theme 2: Community Development

  • Strengthening unity and social structure of Santal community
  • Community development strategy: Planning and Budgeting

Friday, April 29, 2016

Participants: 40 Indigenous students

Place: Joykrishnapur Club. Godagari, Rajshahi

Time: 10am to 4.30pm

Facilitators & Speakers:

  • Abdul Mojid, Mayor, Kakonhat Municipality, Rajshahi
  • Lutfur Rahman Bishu, Councillor, Kakonhat Municipality, Rajshahi
  • Mikhael Soren, Kakonhat Student Association

Workshop Theme 3: Education Movement

  • Issues and challenges in primary and higher education
  • Understanding government and NGO services
  • Strategies for accessing scholarship and training for dropout students
  • Planning education movement for community awareness and advocacy

Friday, July 1, 2016

Participants: 40 Indigenous students

Place: Modhumath Primary School, Godagari, Rajshahi

Time: 10am to 4.30pm

Facilitators & Speakers:

  • Local Government Official
  • NGO representative
  • Teachers

You may see here the  Annual Plan by Indigenous Students Association of Kakonhat, Bangladesh.

Finally, I would like to THANK Mikhael Soren and youth of indigenous communities of Bangladesh for their passion for social justice and community development. My students were very impressed to see your initiative and learn a lot from your example.  

Thank you readers for your time and solidarity!

Long March 2015 by indigenous people of Bangladesh for independent land commission. Photo source: Facebook
Long March 2015 by indigenous people of Bangladesh for independent land commission. Photo source: Facebook