Every year, participating senators welcome local high school students with mobility, sensory or learning impairments to work in the Friends of the Senate program. The program pairs a student with physical or mental challenges to work with a Senate employee.
Friends of the Senate was created in 1994 and welcomes, on average, five students into the program each year.
“The idea is to not only talk about awareness but the fact is that within the Senate, every senator should be taking a very serious look at hiring somebody with some form of disability because it’s about inclusion. It’s about those with a disability participating equally in the environment that we all live in,” said Senator Jim Munson, who developed a warm friendship with student Michael Hurley-Trinque.
“Friends of the Senate Program is very close to my heart. This program not only changes the student's life but every student in my office has changed my life and my staff's life. It is a mutual benefit program and I encourage more parliamentarians to participate,” said Senator Mobina Jaffer.
“Our students have so much to offer and it’s really, really wonderful for them to have the opportunity to show just how much they contribute to society. The acceptance that they’re shown here is invaluable,” said Laurie Souliere, teacher and special education technician at D’Arcy McGee High School in Gatineau, Quebec.