Group seeks services in more languages
by Ana Trusty
Mujeres in Action (MiA), which advocates for local government systems and services to be available in more languages, plans Cultura y Lenguaje to celebrate cultures and languages from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7, at West Central Community Center, 1603 W. Belt.
To celebrate "Three Kings Day," there will be food boxes for the first 50 people, photos with three wise men, arts and crafts, and gifts for children.
Mujeres in Action works to end domestic violence by breaking the power and control that systems have over the immigrant community, which does not have language to access services, said Ana Trusty, director of communication.
Spokane's immigrant community is experiencing growth of eight percent, according to the 2020 Census. In the county, Latinos and Hispanics are 6.6 percent of the population. From 2010 to 2020, 14,090 people of Latino ancestry moved to the county, an increase of 66 percent, the most of any ethnic group.
Eight percent of Spokane residents speak a language other than English as their first language, she reported.
While the main languages in the Spokane area are Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Marshallese, Arabic and Vietnamese, few agencies offer services in a language other than English.
"Eight percent may seem like a small number, but it is more than 40,000 people," Ana said. "The number may be higher.
"When we envision the future here, we think of a city that is welcoming and equitable in providing services," Ana said. "We envision a city with access to courts, police, city and community services no matter how well English is spoken or understood.
"We envision a city where the rights of all are respected regardless of where they come from," she added.
"By not having access to services that legally require language access, the system oppresses immigrants. It is our responsibility to raise our voices and demand to be heard," Ana said.
"The systems can be difficult to navigate for people who speak English fluently, let alone people with limited English," she said. "This year we established good relations with many officials to try to improve the situation. We collaborated with the city for a language access plan and with the Superior Court to increase the number of informational signs and translation services."
The group has also worked with the police, sheriff and prosecutor to improve services for people with limited English.
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