Roger Sachio Obata, (1915-2002) C.M., B.A.Sc., P.Eng. was a lifelong activist for the Japanese Canadian community. He was a member of the Japanese Canadian Citizens League in the 1930s, a founding member of the Japanese Canadian Citizens for Democracy in the 1940s, and the first president of the National Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association (which later became the National Association of Japanese Canadians) in 1947. In 1977, Obata was elected president of the Japanese Canadian Centennial Society, which conceived and staged an event credited with awakening in the dispersed Japanese Canadian community a national consciousness of righting historical wrongs. For this lifelong struggle to enrich the lives of Japanese Canadians and for his exceptional contributions to the 1988 Redress settlement and apology, Obata was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1990. He remains a profound example for all Canadians who strive for justice, freedom and the rights of citizenship.
The prize was established in his honor by the family and friends of Roger S. Obata and the National Association of Japanese Canadians. It is awarded annually to the student who obtains the highest standing in the course International Human Rights. In the event that this course is not offered an equivalent course designated by the Law School will be substituted.