2021 Canadian Autism Leadership Summit Call for Proposals

Application Deadline: July 11, 2021


The Canadian Autism Leadership Summit (CALS) is a yearly gathering for Autistic self-advocates, service providers, policymakers, government and thought leaders to share ideas, experiences, and discuss gaps in policy that impact Autistic Canadians and their families across the country. Building on our successful virtual conference in 2020, and in light of provincial public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing to host CALS virtually.

Our goal is to present a variety of topics and ideas that will facilitate opportunities for collaborations among participants. Importantly, we want to create an atmosphere where we are able to learn from each other and gain perspectives from lived experiences across the country. CALS2021 aims to offer a platform that amplifies underrepresented voices and shares their perspectives regarding identified gaps in policy with decision-makers and other stakeholders.

For CALS 2021, the Summit committee is seeking proposals primarily by Autistic individuals with lived experience, their families and caregivers and/or those with other intersectional identities. In addition, we are seeking proposals that relate to the following themes, which will inform and guide the development of a National Autism Strategy. 

Theme 1: Equity, Diversity and Social Inclusion in Policy Development: “Nothing About Us Without Us”
  • This theme aims to explore rights-based approach to policy development (i.e., Making sure the people affected by the policies are included in the design of those policies).
Theme 2: The Evolution of Evidence-Informed Supports Across the Lifespan
  • This theme aims to discuss diverse views on evidence-informed supports, and services across the entire lifespan.
Theme 3: Progress in Employment Programs and Disability Supports
  • This theme aims to explore federal tax policy, disability, and employment support.

In addition to these 3 themes, we also welcome proposals that shed light on additional insights towards the development of a National Autism Strategy, especially through the lens of lived experience. This means, topics exploring autism and diversity, with particular relevance to underrepresented cultural and marginalized communities in Canadian society.

For more information about the application process please click here.

Types of Submissions

We encourage submissions that focus on linking policy, practice and research in a way that connects to the development of the National Autism Strategy. Furthermore, we encourage submissions in both English and French as we hope to have representation from both official languages at CALS2021. Topics should be relatable to stakeholders across the country, such as the disability tax credit, barriers to equity, employment, affordable housing, the impact of COVID-19, etc. 

Those who are interested in engaging and participating in CALS2021 can submit a proposal in one or more of the following ways;

  1. Display a Virtual Poster
    • Posters may highlight research initiatives or ongoing projects at your organization. Those who are interested will have an opportunity to present their poster during the virtual poster session and in between Ignite talks.
    • Poster guidelines and dimensions – coming soon.
  2. Present an Ignite talk
    • An Ignite talk is a short 7 minutes + 7 slides presentation about: 1) an idea or program in development that will create opportunities for others to connect with you or 2) a challenge to overcome, similar to a TED Talk.
    • Click here to see the IGNITE talks from #CALS2020. 
  3. Deliver a Keynote Address
    • A keynote address is a 30-minute talk that sets the underlying tone and relates to the themes of the Summit. The themes of CALS 2021 are; 
      1. The Evolution of Evidence-Informed Supports Across the Lifespan
      2. Equity, Diversity and Social Inclusion in Policy Development: “Nothing About Us Without Us”
      3. Progress in Employment Programs and Disability Supports
      4. “Through the Lens of Lived Experience: Shedding Light on Additional Insights”
    • Click here to see the keynote addresses from last year. 
  4. Provide Brief Remarks 
    • Brief remarks consist of a 5-10 minute talk scheduled at the beginning or end of each day of the Summit.
  5. Be a Virtual Table Host and Facilitate Table Discussion
    • As a host, you would be guiding a 40-minute interactive, experiential learning session for attendees.
  6. Submit a Pre-Recorded Video 
    • A 5-10 minute pre-recorded video that attendees can watch throughout the Summit on their own time. 
    • Those who choose to submit a pre-recorded video are not required to attend the Summit. 
  7. Display a Piece of Graphic Art or Project
    • Any work of art that can be shared virtually with all attendees (art, image, picture of a drawing, etc.).
    • Priority will be given to Autistic Artists and artwork will be featured at the Summit’s virtual hall. 
  8. Any other means you might think of.


You can send your questions to summit@casda.ca. To keep everyone informed, we will publish all questions anonymously and our answers on our website blog (if you prefer not having your question made public, we will contact you directly with a response). 

Ready to apply? 

Start your application here.

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