Update: Sunday / Breaking News--->ক্যানাডাবিডি নিউজ গতানূগতিক কোন সংবাদপত্র নয় , ক্যানাডার প্রথম এক ব্যাতিক্রমী প্রকাশনা যা প্রবাসী বাংগালীদেরকে “এডুক্যাটেড কম্যুনিটি” র মর্য্যাদার আসনে দেখার স্বপ্ন দেখে

History and evaluation of Bangladeshi-Canadian Settlement & Registered Non-Profit Agencies

We got currently around one hundred thousand Bangladeshi citizens live in Canada while 70% live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Most of these people came in last 15 years to settle in Canada as family class or independent immigrants, entrepreneurs, businessmen or refugee claimants. We also got some foreign students and non-immigrant work authorized Bangladeshi-South Asian origin citizens.


Before year 2000 we local GTA Canadian-Bangladeshi citizens did not have any office based public or private funded registered settlement house or agency or services except few socio-cultural agencies such as Bangladesh Association of Toronto, Ontario started in late 70s to help newcomers without office from organizational leaders’ home by giving info, counseling, advocacy and referrals of service users to mainstream settlement houses or agencies like Bloor ILC, Skills for Change for settlement service, English language and career educational counseling or training or finding employment or counseling on family issues, refugee claim etc.

Social or community work could occur in the form of religious missionaries or settlement houses by the individual groups or institutes fund-raised from either own pockets or from public and private or NGO sectors. Settlement House movement started first in UK where Samuel Barnett and his wife Henrietta opened first settlement house called Toynbee Hall in 1884 with a group of students from Oxford University. They hoped to recreate the bonds of community that had been lost with the rise of urban industrialism and subsequent middleclass migration to the suburbs. They encouraged friendships with the local inhabitants and used their university educational training to help improve local living and working conditions and we Bangladeshi local settlement agency can follow part of their model as well. From 1884 opening of Toynbee Hall, the settlement approach spread rapidly throughout Britain and North America.

By 1896 there were 44 and by 1901 there were 100 and by 1905 there were 200 and by 1911 there were 400 settlement houses in industrial cities of UK/USA/Canada. Jane Addams, called the mother of social work winning the Nobel peace prize in 1931 opened the first American settlement house called Hull House in Chicago in 1889.

Canadian settlement house social work movement garnered sponsorship from a variety of groups including college/university students, church groups, local women’s council, and civic associations as well as interest groups on social welfare and reform. In the year of 1902 American settlement worker Sara Libby Carson established first Canadian settlement house in Toronto called: Evangelia House with
support of Toronto dominion of YWCAS, Toronto University Women Club, and Toronto Local Council of women, nurses, teachers, musicians and artists. In 1913, Edith Elwood, Carson’s successor opened the second Canadian settlement house called Riverdale House. Now there are around 200 mainstream and ethnic Canadian settlement houses or agencies serving local Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area.

The first Bangladeshi-Canadian settlement worker is Khurshida Qureshi who started serving newcomer immigrants and local background Bangladeshi newcomer immigrants and citizens from 1988 under GTA agency called; Bloor Info Life skills Centre. The first two Bangladeshi office based and regular services offering settlement or community agencies are called Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services registered and opened by chartered accountant, Mustaq Ahmed as founder who gain experiences as board member from Bloor ILC. when the second one is called Bengali Family Support Services founded by a female medical doctor, Stella Rahman working as a researcher in CAMH(Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Research). Besides these there are over 25 Bangladeshi ethnic media and socio-cultural agencies for recreation (Eid Reunion, summer picnic, sports, cultural show and Bangladeshi national events of Feb. 21 IMLD, March Independence, April Baishakhi & December Victory Day etc.) opened and served our ethnic community without office, website, funds and regular plan, programs and services for newcomer clients.

To serve our Canadian Bangladeshi Community with annual picnic, Baishakhi, national events, we do have Bangladeshi University Alumni Associations in Toronto & other big cities like BUET, KUET, CHUET, DUET, RUET, DU, JU, RU, CTGU Alumni Association while all of our homeland Bangladeshi university ranking is out top 500 positions on global ranking compared to Canadian Toronto, UBC, McGill University are in top 25.

There are also over 50 Bangladeshi GTA social or community workers working for own ethnic or other ethnic or mainstream settlement house or community support agencies. Besides community service agencies in GTA we also had 3-5 ethnic Bangla media called Weekly Deshe-Bideshe, Weekly Desher Dak in mid 90s and later our readers got Weekly Bangla Kagoj, Weekly Bangla Reporter, Weekly Shomoy, Weekly Desher Alo, Weekly Aajkal and Weekly Jogajog. Our readers and viewers are so fortunate that by 2010 we have 5 printed media, 3 on-line media(www.bengalitimes.net, www.canadabdnews.ca and www.deshe-bideshe.com ) and 3 TV broadcasting media called ATN Bangla, Deshi TV and Bangla TV.

Thanks Lord that I am very fortunate to work closely with the editors and publishers of each of our ethnic media by contributing educational or social work news stories, articles and columns.

Here I enclose the list (collected from Ontario govt. website) of all non-profit GTA Bangladeshi-Canadian office based agencies on settlement, education, career/profession, employment, healthcare, legal, business, socio-culture and faith with regular programs and services or without office programs and services:
Agency: Reg. Year Reg. Office Services(Y/N)
1. Bangladesh Association of Ontario, Toronto 1975 N
2. Bangladesh Association of Toronto, Ont. 1991 N
3. Bangladesh-Canada Association of London 1992 N
4. Bangladesh-Canada Association of Hamilton 1999 N
5. Bangladesh Canada Binodon Cultural Society 1993 N
6. Bangladesh Canada Hindu Cultural Society 1995 N
7. Bangladesh Jatiya Cultural Society of Ont. 1997 N
8. Assn. Of Bangladeshi Engineers, Ontario 1997 N
9. Bangladesh Community Center of Toronto 1998 N
10. Bangladesh Catholic Assn of Ontario 1999 N
11. Bangladesh Forum of Canada 2000 N
12. Bangladesh Society of Ontario 2000 N
13. Bangladesh-Canadian Community Service 2000 Y
14. Bengali family Support Services, Ont. 2000 Y
15. Ont.-Bangladeshi Educators Community SS 2006 Y
16. Ont. Bengali Cultural Society 2005 Y
17. Scarborough Bengali Club 2006 N
18. Bangladeshi Hindu-Buddhist-Christian unity 2004 N
19. Bangladesh Club of Toronto 2006 N
20. Canadian Society of Bangladeshi Engineers 2006 N
21. Ass. of Bangladeshi Accounting/Finance 1997 N
22. South Asia Community Support Service 2008 Y
23. Bangladeshi-Canadian JanaKallyan Sanstha 2007 N
24. South Asian Voice 2006 N
25. Bangladesh Center 2010 Y
26. South Asian Women Rights Group 2008  Y
27. Canadian Bangladesh Forum 2011    Y
28. Association of Bangladeshi Canadians(ABC) 2010
29. Bengali Information and Employment Service  2012  Y
30. Volunteer Association for Bangladesh and Canada 2012 N
I am grateful to our creator that being first Bangladeshi public school educator of Canada’s largest school board of education, Toronto DSB and professional member of Canada’s largest professional org. called Ontario College of Teachers, I had opportunities to work with Cdn public & private schools and volunteer after school or annual summer/winter/Christmas holidays under collaboration of fully office operated by Bangladeshi Canadians and Non-Bangladeshi Canadians of agencies like Bloor ILC(Khurshida Quereshi, senior settlement worker, Afroza Begum, Gulnar Hossain as counselors and ED, Marziya Yeasmin); Bangladesh Association of Toronto Ontario(4 presidents: Nabi Khandaker, Rezaur rahman, Alamgir Hussain, Shahidur Rahman); South Asia Family Support Service(ED, Dr Kazi Hoque, settlement workers, Waheeda Alam, LINC coordinator: Indira Basu); BCS or Bangladeshi Canadian Community Services(founder, Mustaq Ahmed, Chair, Abdul Wahid), Thorncliffe Neighborhood Org joint project with BCS or Toronto DSB(ED, Jehad Aliweiwi, settlement workers: Rumana Islam, Yasmin Ashraf, Mirza Mustafiz); Harmony House(David Lieberman, settlement counselors: Nazly Sultana, Afsana Chowdhury); CTRAT(Board VP, Nessa Babli); Polycultural ICS(settlement worker, Yasmin Ashraf); Tropicana(settlement counselor, Akbar Khan); Cross-Cultural Link-SEPT(school settlement workers, Tauhidun Nabi, Arifa Yeasmin, Rony Mazumder); Toronto Public Library (settlement work); OBCS(President, Farhana Pallab and settlement, employment, culture & heritage counselors: Omar Faruque, Shaymal Mahmud and Tuli Karim); Skills For Change(program manager, Shabnum Budhwani); Second Base Shelter(ED, Alison Coke); Canada Center for Women Education and Heathcare(ED, Bibi Zaman); South Asian Women Center(K. Sekhar and Sabita Saha); North York Community Agency(school settlement worker, Sarwar Mustofa); East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club(Employment counselor, Koreen Thomas); Muslim Welfare Center(Founder late major Abbas); Warden Woods CC(ED, Ginelle Skerritt); Canada Center for Poverty Eradication(directors: Syed Abdul Goffar, Mosiur Reza, Fayzul Haque); Jakaria Uddin( Rexdale Women's Center), Assn of Bangladeshi Engineers(directors/presidents: Sohrab Hossain, Rezaur Rahman); Ryerson University Caribbean Research Center(Director-Professor; Jean Golden); Woodgreen Center(settlement counselor, Papri Halder); ISNA Canada, Neighbourhood Link(Nausheen Patil) and Ont-Bangladeshi Educators Community support Services colleague directors; South Asian Voice(President, Shamsul Islam); Rezaul Karim(Counselor, Agincourt Community Center); and VAB-Canada (President, Pamela Khaled)etc.

It has been my pleasure to work with these wonderful people and agencies to collaborate daily, weekly or annually on board meetings, volunteering, fundraising, counseling of clients, conducting
workshops, seminars, open houses etc.

There are also people who work for non-Bangladeshi agencies administered by Bangladeshis or other Canadians that I did not have chance to work with listed below:

1. Bloor ILC
2. South Asia Family SS
3. South Asia Women Centre
4. Thorncliffe Neighborhood Org.
5. Greenwood CC
6. Warden wood CC
7. West Hill CC
8. Store Front
9. Riverdale WC
10. South Asia Legal Clinic
11. Neighbor Link
12. New Women Experiences
13. Harmony House for seniors
14. Toronto Meals on Wheels for seniors
15. Access Alliance(multicultural healthcare)
16. Tropicana
17. Micro skills
18. East Metro
19. South East Asian Service
20. Polycultural ICS

Social work or community work is challenging in Canada, USA and other welfare bureaucratic & democratic plus third world developing countries.

Some of the challenges in the form of different types of oppression (exploitation, violence, marginalization, cultural imperialism or violence) are due to our societal system of patriarchy, hierarchy and poor or lack of education, wealth, safety and different. belief practiced by our society people.

Among Canadian Bangladeshis we are victim of oppressions like marginalization, cultural imperialism or domestic violence. There are also 5 pillars (racism, classism, sexism, ableism and homophobia) of equity issues which causes oppression in Canada faced by minorities groups.

Developing a sense of history has been an area of considerable activity with a number of oppressed groups, particularly within the women’s movement, black liberation movements, decolonization movement and aboriginal movements for self-govern govt. and self-determination. Most individuals of these groups have lack of awareness of their own lives, their contribution to culture and society plus their accomplishments and achievements.

Social worker scholar Adam Barry (1978) argues that when members of an oppressed group come together to discuss their oppressive situation a dialectical movement towards integration occurs whereby group members discover each other and in the process discover themselves.


Speaking about cultural, racial and ethnic minority groups, they want or accept the maintenance of difference but without the hierarchy which is rooted in colonialism (Leonard, 1997:70).

From Bangladesh to Canada we have been even oppressed by our own dominant groups between rich and poor; educated and uneducated; person to person; person to agency; agency to agency, agency to society etc. while many of our own and mainstream people or groups face multiple oppressions. Social work theorists examines in detail the many form that oppression can take at the personal, cultural and institutional levels and outline the anti-oppressive approaches and practice that social or community work must adopt if it is really to assist those on whom an inferior variety of citizenship has been imposed.

Being a foreign trained community or social worker without getting local education, training and experiences it is difficult to understand the multicultural Canadian Social work theory, practice, process, structure, strategies, tactics and dynamics while we have lot of foreign trained social/community workers have been working in local ethnic or mainstream social work institution in reality.

The question is how many of our social or community workers really practice in what they believe or follow the 2005 CASW (Canadian Assn. of Social Workers) code(6) of ethics? How
many of our community leaders, administrators, policy makers and researchers treat our own workers, volunteers and members/clients with mutual respect, active listening and appreciation? How many of our community activists, leaders and administrators spend time on priority with proper and current need following the protocol and producing enough agency, plans, programs, services and policies to meet the current and on-going requirement? An example: while we need for our
ethnic people more institutes/agencies and programs with regular services on local official language, settlement, educational, career, employment, professional training, healthcare, legal, family issues like food, shelter, housing etc.), we have been creating more and more Art and Cultural agencies for one time monthly or yearly recreation which do not help our children with mainstream guidance, advocacy, or mentoring on education, training, career, employment.

On one hand we see most of our people are segregated or ghettoized to fall behind in Canadian mainstream education, social work, healthcare, legal, politics, economics, banking , accounting, taxation or other business systems of both public and private sectors. 75% of our first generation Bangladeshis individual or family live below the poverty line making less than $12/hour by Canadian definition. On the other hand we see 60-65% of our 2nd generation with or without the parental support have been landing successfully in mainstream Canadian society with higher education and career/professions gaining on-going experiences.

Canadian social work professor/scholar (working for Australian University), Bob Mullaly proposes a psychology of liberation aimed at helping oppressed groups fixing psychological damage associated with oppression at personal level; promoting alternative culture, developing strategies of resistance, challenging dominant discourses and confronting negative stereotype at socio-cultural level and creating alternative ethnic institutes by oppressed people, reforming, building coalition, adapt or maintaining the rage at institutional level.

We as local Canadian and North American ethnic and mainstream social or community workers,
administrators and researchers can also practice the same with our knowledge, skills, values, belief, wisdom and guidance from Rabb/Lord/Ishshar/Allah by individual faith.

Finally from my close working capacity, observation and experience among GTA-Cdn-Bgd settlement or community support agencies if my honest evaluation top 3 are BCS, OBECSS & BATO.

Writer: Towhid Noman, OCT Toronto DSB Educator,
OBECSS-TBPAC Founder,
VAB-CDN & BATO Advisor