Local and national communities and organizations are mourning the loss of a well-respected leader of Japanese Canadians.
Robert Tadashi Banno, the founding president of the Burnaby-based nonprofit Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre and the Nikkei Place Foundation, died on June 16, according to the Nikkei Place Foundation. The cause of the death has not been released. He was 77 years old.
As a sansei (third generation), he was born in the Tashme internment camp during the Second World War after Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from the B.C. coast.
After graduating from the UBC School of Law, he began practising law in 1969 and served as a senior partner at DLA Piper, with expertise in Canada-Japan business and Indigenous law.
Over the course of his career, he garnered many honours.
In 2013, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel, and he was also awarded the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to the Japanese-Canadian community. Then, in 2016, he received Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun. (An official ceremony was held by the consul general of Japan in 2017.)
Banno led the merger of the National Nikkei Heritage Centre Society and the Japanese Canadian National Museum, and helped establish the Nikkei Place Foundation to fundraise for the cultural centre and museum as well as the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society.
Condolences can be shared at a tribute webpage on the Nikkei Place Foundation website.
The Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, which Banno helped to determine the location for, opened in Burnaby in 2000 to honour, preserve, and share Japanese-Canadian history and Japanese culture.