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Whitney Hodgins, autism and mental health advocate, was selected as the winner of the first annual Jim and Ginette Munson Autism Leadership Award on the second day of the 8th Annual Canadian Autism Leadership Summit hosted by the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA).
The Jim and Ginette Munson Autism Leadership Award was created by CASDA in recognition of the persistent determination and leadership displayed by The Honourable Jim Munson, and Ginette Munson, in pursuit of a better Canada for Autistic persons, their families and communities.
“Our Munson Award Selection Committee reviewed 12 nominations and there was a unanimous decision to award the honour to Whitney Hogins,” said Margaret Whelan, spokesperson for the Selection Committee. “Whitney is so deserving of this award and the recognition, having served as a tireless advocate for Autistic Canadians since being diagnosed with autism herself at age 14. Her advocacy also includes speaking out for greater mental health resources and support.”
Whitney, 27, is from Manitoba in the heart of Treaty 2. A graduate of Brandon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and HIstory, Whitney is currently a student with Athabasca University, studying Human Resources and Labour Relations.
Whitney has received significant accolades for her advocacy; centering her efforts on the need to provide a holistic approach to create the best support for people on the autism spectrum and their families through consultation and teamwork. This recognition includes being named a recipient of the Future Leaders of Manitoba Award (Age 20 – 26 Category) in 2020, and the CBC Manitoba Future 40 Finalists in 2020. She was also a nominee for the Manitoba Women of Distinction Award in 2021.
“Ginette and I are so pleased to see the inaugural award go to Whitney Hodgins,” said retired Senator Jim Munson. “She has experienced first-hand the profound gaps in society in terms of service provisions, employment equity, access to education and a general understanding and acceptance of Autism. As such, she has become an exceptional activist—using her voice and her knowledge to push for autism acceptance, disability justice, and mental health initiatives across all levels of government.”
More information on the The Jim and Ginette Munson Autism Leadership Award can be found at: www.autismalliance.ca/cals/munson-award.
Emily Smith van Beek