Hon. Jim Munson: Colleagues, I often speak about autism in the spring for events connected to World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. But like so many other things this year, the sixth Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance Summit, or CASDA summit, was postponed until this fall and will take place online.
I’m hoping you can join us on Monday and Tuesday, October 5 and 6, by registering at www.casda.ca/leadership-summit.
Although we all miss face-to-face interactions and meeting in the same place, I’m optimistic that hosting the CASDA summit online means it will reach more people this year. Many more Canadians will have the opportunity to participate and share their experiences with autism without having to travel or even leave home. Going online also offers each of you and every Canadian the chance to attend the summit virtually to meet and learn from autism advocates firsthand.
This year’s CASDA summit will host presentations and networking rooms on topics of autism that may be familiar to you, like early diagnosis and treatment interventions, or how outcomes for children with autism differ between provinces, and, of course, the absolute need for a national autism strategy in this country.
We will also have the chance to learn about the contributions and advances people with autism are making in the Canadian workforce and get insights from leaders who are creating positive changes in their communities and neighbourhoods.
This is your chance to learn directly from experts in the field, many of whom live with autism.
In a world where the majority of people are all trying to fit in, each year the CASDA summit makes me appreciate the uniqueness each of us has to offer and reminds me how valuable different viewpoints are to our daily discussions and in policy-making.
If diversity is our strength in this country, then it must start with inclusion. Inclusion comes from respect, listening, participation and action toward common goals. The CASDA summit is where inclusion starts for the autism community in Canada.
I hope you will be able to join the CASDA summit for a day, an hour, or even just 10 minutes so that you can meet Canadians living with autism and learn from them — instead of me, for a change — and to hear from them about why Canadians need a national autism strategy right now.
In this Senate, we have champions. We have Senator Boehm, we have Senator Bernard, Senator Housakos, and many of you who have inquired about autism, because in each of our communities we do know somebody who has autism.
I want to say, since I have a few minutes, that I appeal directly to Minister Qualtrough and Minister Hajdu. You have the mandate letters in front of you. You pledged to pass a national autism strategy — to get it done. Let’s do it together. After all, we’re all in this together. Thank you.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.