Saturday is International Human Rights Day. It marks the date, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Snohomish County, it hasn’t gotten much notice — until now.
The first annual Snohomish County Human Rights Awards are scheduled to be presented Saturday at the Everett Labor Temple. The public is invited to the event, 1-3 p.m., hosted by the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission.
Five awards will be given. They are:
Human Rights Award: Deborah Parker
Law Award: Snohomish County Office of Neighborhoods
Community Organization Award: Communities of Color Coalition
Educators Award: Edmonds School District’s Diversity, Equity and Outreach Department
Racism It Stops With Me Award: The Islamic Center of Mukilteo
“Snohomish County has really been innovative in trying to create a close-knit community,” said Sherry Cuddy, senior secretary of the county’s Human Rights Commission. Recognizing the inherent dignity and equality of all people “is a founding principle,” she said.
The nine-member Human Rights Commission is appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the Snohomish County Council. Unpaid, the group advises county officials and agencies on human rights matters.
Cuddy said Parker was recognized for her work to strengthen the federal Violence Against Women Act. A former vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes board of directors, Parker was an outspoken advocate for renewal of the law, with changes that now apply to crimes committed on Indian reservations.
Working with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Parker told her personal story about abuse as she pushed Congress for a more inclusive version of the 1994 law. The updated version, signed by President Barack Obama in 2013, expanded federal protections to Native American victims, along with immigrants, gay, lesbian and transgender people.
Parker was at the ceremony at the Interior Department when Obama signed the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013.
The Law Award recognizes the homeless outreach unit of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office of Neighborhoods.
“As sheriff, I believe that criminalizing homelessness and untreated mental illness and addiction does nothing to end it,” Sheriff Ty Trenary said in a statement acknowledging the award. “At a time when police agencies across this country are being called out for violence and discrimination, the Office of Neighborhoods team is actively promoting and protecting the human rights of our county’s most marginalized residents.”
The Office of Neighborhoods, created by Trenary in 2015, aims to bridge the gap between law enforcement, corrections and human services. “It’s getting people the resources they need in order to be successful citizens in our community,” Cuddy said.
In the 12 months through Oct. 31, the team secured housing for 57 people, and detox services for 86 people in Snohomish County, 72 of whom completed the program and moved to inpatient drug treatment. The Office of Neighborhoods has helped 60 county residents get ID cards, arranged for chemical dependency assessments for 67 people, and signed up 33 others for health insurance.
The Office of Neighborhoods also was honored Thursday with a humanitarian award at the annual American Red Cross Snohomish County Heroes Breakfast.
Cuddy praised the Communities of Color Coalition for its long history of community activism. And she said the Edmonds School District’s Diversity, Equity and Outreach Department works to include the experiences of all students and families in its educational programs.
The Islamic Center of Mukilteo, a Muslim organization planning to build a mosque in the city, was at the center of controversy earlier this year. A mailing, later tied to the president of Mukilteo-based Electroimpact Inc., called attention to plans for the mosque and included “mukilteostaysafe” in an email address.
Mohammed Riaz Khan, president of the group planning the mosque, answered questions at a May meeting of about 200 people at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church in Harbour Pointe.
“The Islamic Center has brought diversity, and made Mukilteo a more engaged community. They reached out to the community and are trying to educate,” Cuddy said. “What the commission was really focused on was finding the positive in a year that’s been so negative.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Snohomish County Human Rights Commission will present its first annual Human Rights Awards 1-3 p.m. Saturday in the Everett Labor Temple’s Warren Rush Room, 2812 Lombard Ave. Living Voices, a Seattle group that explores history through archival film and solo performances, will present “Hear My Voice.” Event is free and open to the public.