Gordon Kadota's Life Remembered

Gordon Kadota's Life Remembered

His life, leadership, and lasting legacy in the Japanese Canadian community will never be forgotten.


Gordon was a great story teller and often started by saying “It’s a long story”. On Sunday, September 22, a large number of the Nikkei community gathered at Nikkei Place to celebrate the life of our dear friend and longtime supporter Gordon Kadota, and remember his story.

Gordon was born on January 15, 1933 in New Westminster, B.C., the 8th child of Kantaro and Shigeno (nee Kunita) Kadota. At the age of 7 he was taken to Japan for a visit, but the outbreak of World War II prevented his return to Canada. He spent 12 years in Japan, graduating from Kwansei Gakuin University High School and later returned to Canada in 1952.

“Gordon always struck me as unusual among JCs. As a Nisei who was trapped in Japan during the war and was educated there, but who returned to Canada as a young man, he had the ability to navigate both worlds with ease. He himself carried values from both Japan and Canada, and he was able to serve as a bridge between cultures and generations. He was at once blunt and diplomatic, sometimes at the same time, and he had a strong sense of duty to community, while never seeking credit for himself. As the second editor of The Bulletin, he set a tone and a standard that hopefully carries through to this day.”

—John Endo Greenaway
Editor, The Bulletin

Beginning in the mid-1950’s, he volunteered and became a leader in the Japanese Canadian community, serving both in organizations at the local and national levels. Over the years, Gordon received numerous awards for his work in the Japanese Canadian community, in business and tourism and the betterment of relations between Japan and Canada.

In 2016, Gordon received Nikkei Place Foundation’s Thomas Shoyama Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2000, his dream of creating a gathering place for the Japanese-Canadian community was realized with the building of Nikkei Place in Burnaby, B.C.

“Gordon was a very unique man — he championed causes and worked with everyone. Like so many great leaders, he was patient and he worked tirelessly to prove that Nikkei Place was a dream that we needed to pursue.”

— Robert Banno
President, NPF

He had a big heart, kind words and a sense of humour that made it possible for him to continue for so many years in public service.

“Gordon Kadota will be remembered for his important work on behalf of the Japanese Canadian community. We will also remember his kindness, good humour and generosity.”

—Lorene Oikawa
President, NAJC