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Tribute Award for Advocacy

Former Senator Jim Munson

Headshot of Jim MunsonIf 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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