Tribute Award for Advocacy
Former Senator Jim Munson
If you are a person living with autism, then Jim Munson has your back.
Jim has long had a passion for supporting people with autism and
their families. But this passion is made up of more than words. He has
to put it to work.
Just read what people have to say about Jim.
“He walks the talk.” “A constant source of encouragement and wisdom.”
“Always open and accessible.” “A strong and valued voice for autism at
the federal level.” “There are few people in the world of autism who
command the kind of respect that Jim Munson has. If he is present in the
room, people pay attention.”
A noted journalist, Jim worked for more than three decades as an
acclaimed globe-trotting foreign correspondent, mostly for CTV, covering
hot-zone events like the Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War. His reporting was
nominated for two Gemini Awards.
After serving as Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s director of
communications for two years, Jim was appointed to the Senate of Canada.
And it was in this role that he became a powerful and respected voice
for people with autism.
It’s been reported that Jim saw a man sitting on the steps of
Parliament and stopped to talk with him. The man talked about his
concerns for his son with autism. Jim listened. And he made autism one
of his chosen causes, along with the rights of children and people with
disabilities—with a focus on the Special Olympics.
His main inspiration and guiding force has been his first son, Timmy,
who was born with Down syndrome and lived only nine months.
During his 18-year tenure as a Senator, Jim helped to lay the
foundation for the creation of a National Autism Strategy. Through his
collaboration with key organizations such as Autism Alliance of Canada,
Autism Ontario, and the McMaster Autism Research Team, Jim has
highlighted the necessity for taking meaningful action to improve the
lives of people with autism at the national level.
Jim played a key role in the seminal 2007 Senate committee report,
Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis, which provided a
foundation and guide for transformative priorities in autism across
sectors for decades to come.
Jim sponsored a private member’s bill that became law with royal
assent in 2012: the World Autism Awareness Day Act. Thanks to his
leadership, Canada joined 192 countries in annually recognizing World
Autism Awareness Day at the start of every April.
He also sponsored the Accessible Canada Act through the Senate and
into law in 2019. This act named and formalized the Nothing Without Us
key principle, involving persons with disabilities in developing laws,
policies, and programs that impact them. The Act aims to build a
barrier-free Canada by 2040.
With selfless advocacy, grace and determination to make a tangible
difference, and above all, kindness toward others, Jim Munson has played
a vital role in creating a more equitable environment and brighter
future for Canadians.
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