Tom Oye Human Rights Award

The Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission annual Tom Oye Human Rights Award honors the late Tom Oye and other members of the community whose good works promote human relations and advance human rights. Nominations are now open for the 2017 Tom Oye Human Rights Award.

Oye was a longtime Edina resident and humanitarian who demonstrated courage and compassion in the advancement of human rights. He helped found the Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission in 1970 and served on it for more than 30 years. He also served on the Edina Chemical Health Partners committee and the University of Minnesota Human Relations Committee. In addition, Oye was a Nisei soldier in World War II, a second-generation Japanese American who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history. In 2003, Oye received the Prize for Humanity by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation.

Individuals who live, study or work in Edina, or who make significant contributions to Edina, are eligible for the Tom Oye Human Rights Award. Learn more about past award recipients below.

Nominees will be evaluated based on their efforts to foster respect and dignity for others, model courage and/or compassion in the advancement of human rights, and demonstrate leadership by example for improving human relations and/or advancing human rights. The definition of human rights has evolved to include: freedom from discrimination because of race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, marital status, disability, status with regard to public assistance, familial status or national origin.

2006 Tom Oye Award Winner: Mary Ellingen

Mary Ellingen is a volunteer lawyer with Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. She has participated in fact-finding missions regarding women’s human rights in Poland, Tajikistan and locally. She prepared recommendations for bringing laws into conformity with international human rights standards.

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