The Myanmar Policy and Community Knowledge Hub

MyPACK, the Myanmar Policy and Community Knowledge Hub

Welcome to the Myanmar Policy and Community Knowledge (MyPACK) Hub

Myanmar is in a critical period of change and uncertainty. Since the 1 February, 2021 military coup, citizens across the country have made it clear that they will not accept a return to military rule. Ethnic Revolutionary Organisations (EROs) have been resisting military predation and ethno-religious hegemony for decades and, despite real political differences, have been communicating and coordinating more effectively than ever before.

The current nationwide revolution was sparked by widespread protests and a Civil Disobedience Movement that has maintained its commitment and focus in the face of brutal military tactics of repression. Grassroots People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) have mobilized rapidly and cooperated with existing armed groups for training and joint action against the military. The National Unity Government (NUG) has worked to organize domestic groups and to gain external support for the revolution.

Devonshire pool

Myanmar’s situation is complicated and dynamic, with many actors claiming political legitimacy and a mandate to govern. This is not a typical policy situation. And the MyPACK Hub is not a typical policy hub.

Like other policy groups, we produce briefs and reports for political decision-makers in Ottawa, Myanmar and elsewhere, and we provide training to our fellows and affiliates in the norms of policy research and writing, lobbying, and effective communication.

But we also recognize that community knowledge and experience need to be valued and considered just as much as conventional policy skills. Our fellows and affiliates are all embedded as members of community groups, either within the diaspora or in Myanmar. Some of them are also pursuing higher education, but this is not a prerequisite to contributing to the MyPACK Hub.

National governments and international aid organisations have a role to play in supporting the people of Myanmar in their struggle against the military and their efforts to build an inclusive, federal, democratic country. But the reality is that this revolutionary movement has been almost entirely crowdfunded by the Myanmar diaspora and supported by mutual aid activities among communities in the country. If the people of Myanmar have been the ones to sustain this resistance so effectively, their knowledge, experiences and needs should be prioritized when developing policy.

MyPACK is housed at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. It is supported by a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) as part of the Knowledge for Democracy-Myanmar (K4DM) project.

supported by the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar initiative of International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Global Affairs Canada.
Myanmar-Oriented Policy

In seeking to influence Myanmar-oriented policy, the MyPACK Hub will engage with multiple actors. One is the Canadian government—including elected officials, policy-makers at Global Affairs Canada, and other political decision-makers. We aim to share not only the results and insights of research conducted by our Fellows and affiliates, but more generally to amplify the knowledge and expertise of communities in Myanmar who know their own situations the best.

Fellows at the MyPACK Hub have also built relationships with government and policy actors in Myanmar, including the NUG, NUCC and ethnic governance institutions. In addition to sharing their research and recommendations, they will also work to ensure that these Myanmar policy actors are engaged with and listening to a wide range of Myanmar perspectives. The grassroots institutions and processes that have been developed before and since the coup will be an essential part of the country’s future democratic processes and are important contributors during this revolutionary period.

Diaspora-Oriented Policy

The Myanmar diaspora in Canada is diverse and multifaceted. Some individuals and communities have lived here for generations, while others have arrived more recently. Burmese-Canadians born in Canada have had a different mode of engagement with politics in Myanmar, but are no less connected to their cultures.

The diaspora is spread across Canada, but concentrated in several major centres. People from Myanmar have also created a range of organizations, representing particular ethnic and religious groups, youth and university students, as well as more umbrella initiatives, open to all. The map below reflects many of those groups.

Diaspora communities are undoubtedly interested in what is happening in Myanmar, and have not only been major material contributors to the anti-coup resistance, they have also been leading advocates to the Canadian government for more aid and support.

But diaspora communities also have more localized needs related to immigration, economic security, community integration, education and other fields. MyPACK Fellows come from these communities and can be effective bridges to local, provincial and national policy-makers, to articulate changing community needs. We also envision our Fellows helping to establish and develop relationships between communities and specialized knowledge or expertise within universities and the public and private spheres.

Outreach and Impact

The MyPACK Hub will use multiple platforms and modes of communication to engage with different stakeholders, aiming to make our outputs available at least in Burmese and English, and in other languages where possible or appropriate.

Our published outputs will include policy briefs and research reports (published here and on sites like Tea Circle), op-eds in Canadian, Myanmar and Southeast Asian media, as well as bespoke reports for community partners.

We will also hold private briefings for policy-makers, for the purpose of sharing research results and conducting advocacy. And we will use our networks and institutional platforms to convene roundtables, forums and other events, both in-person and virtual, to put a wider range of policy perspectives in conversation.

National: Burma-Canada Network Canada-Burma Ethnic Nationalities Organization Canada Alliance for Myanmar Myanmar Emergency Fund Burma Forum Burma Watch Burma Scholar Chin Community of Canada Karen Community of Canada Burma-Chinese Association Rohingya Centre of Canada Karenni Society of Canada Kachin Canadian Association  West Coast: Myanmar Students Coalition BC Peace for Burma Coalition 2021 Burmese Action Group Karen Community BC Burma Buddhist Society BC Chin Society Vancouver Chin Youth Organization


Our Team

Matthew Walton headshot

Matthew Walton

Dr. Matthew J Walton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on Buddhism and Buddhist political thought in Theravāda Southeast Asia, with a particular emphasis on Myanmar. In addition to his work with MyPACK, Dr Walton’s other policy-engaged projects include: the Myanmar blog Tea Circle, the Myanmar Media & Society (M.MAS) Project, and the Oxford-Myanmar Policy Brief Series.

Mercy Sang Te

Mercy Sang Te

Mercy Sang Te is an undergraduate student studying political science and psychology at the University of Toronto. She is of Chin descent from Myanmar and is fluent in the language. She is involved with the Myanmar Culture Club and the Chin Community of Canada organization. She will be undertaking a research project in Thailand during the 2024 summer studying the impacts of the civil war in Myanmar on local situations at the border.

Napas Thein Headshot

Napas Thein

Master of Public Policy Student at the University of Toronto Munk School and Chair and Co-Founder of the University of Toronto Myanmar Culture Club (MCC). He has experience working in research, policy analysis, and politics. His Burma-related work involves the creation of the MCC, establishment of multiple academic and community events in Toronto with Myanmar politicians, activists, and community members, and community organizing work. He is interested in engaging in research-backed, community-led, and innovative initiatives that help advance democracy, development, and education in Myanmar

Isabella Aund Headshot

Isabella Aung

Isabella Aung is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University, researching women’s digital activism in the ongoing anti-authoritarian movement in Myanmar. Her research explores how contemporary authoritarian power is both contested and sustained through social media. She is currently a UBC Myanmar Initiative Fellow. She holds a doctoral scholarship, funded by the Research Network on Women, Peace, and Security (RN-WPS) at McGill University. She also holds a Graduate Research Fellowship at the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP). She has been recognized as an emerging scholar by le Réseau d’analyse stratégique/the Network for Strategic Analysis (RAS-NSA).  She has recently been chosen as a Civil War Paths fellow at the University of York and an inaugural Public Scholarship Fellow at Queen's University.

Jaivet Ealom headshot

Jaivet Ealom

An author and advisor to the Ministry of Human Rights at the National Unity Government of Myanmar. Driven by his firsthand experience of oppression and the Rohingya crisis, Jaivet bridges the gap between experience, research, and action to shape policies for a more peaceful and stable Myanmar. He is passionate about driving solutions for a democratic Myanmar, one where research translates into real change.

Mehek Berry Headshot

Mehek Berry

Mehek Berry is an undergraduate student studying Political Science, Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto. She has worked on research projects involving environmental law and advocacy in Asia Pacific, as well as greenwashing, de-dollarization, and sustainable energy transition, among other pressing issues in both the United States and Asia Pacific. She has also collaborated with the Asian American Legal Defense Fund to develop a strategic plan and investment policy. She is currently working as a Compliance Analyst for the G20 Research Group's New Delhi Cycle 2023-2024.