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Our Star Baby, Our Boy

Dec 11, 1981

15 Kislev  5742


March 24, 2023

2 Nisan 5783

Aaron was born in the heart of winter under the bright light of a beaming full moon in Prince George, BC, on December 11th, 1981, to his parents Judy and Peter Banfield. He entered the world in what would become his most natural habitat - surrounded by snow and frosted air. The night before he came into being, his parents  were stopped on their drive home by a family of moose - a mama, papa and baby - crossing the road. His parents gave him the nickname Star Baby, because  his eyes, blue like a frozen lake reflecting a clear sky, were filled with multidimensional fractals that looked like they contained galaxies (and they probably did). Two and half years later, his sister Elena was born on a summer night under a half-moon. The two quickly became deeply connected friends and companions who only grew closer as the years passed. 


Aaron spent his early years as a bush kid on the family’s 90-acre piece of land, and always felt nurtured and whole in wild spaces. As an adult he led conscious hiking groups, encouraging others to stop and commune with trees, observe the light, identify leaves and mosses. He listened to plants, with his houseplants often “telling” him when they needed more or less water, light, or love. He connected with animals and had affinity with racoons, because, in his words, they are resourceful, tenacious, fearless, acrobatic and family-oriented - all qualities Aaron embodied.


In 1985 the family moved to Vancouver, and then to Nelson in 1990. Through his youth, he delighted in being on stage and participated in summer youth theatre, community productions, and LVR drama. Theatre pushed him out of his social anxiety and helped him find and train his voice. He reveled in film, both making and viewing, and he and his friends created many hilarious zero-budget movies. He was involved in Kootenay Co-op Radio’s very early days, hosting a movie review show with friends that was unceremoniously cancelled due to some unsanctioned swear words. He worked at the grassroots NGO Earth Matters, and was involved in environmental activism.  During those years he also fenced, trained in martial arts (King Fu and Qi Gong), and completed two years at Selkirk College. 


Aaron returned to Vancouver in 2004 for two years at UBC, then to Victoria to attend the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and resided there for over a decade. There, he began a dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practice, started a holistic medicine clinic called The Sanctum (that didn’t quite go as planned), treated many patients at Hemma and Acacia Health, gave chair massages at the markets, led hiking groups and sat in ceremony, sang kirtan, hosted many a party and potluck, and graced dancefloors with his unique style that looked like he was dancing with the energetic currents in the air. It’s also where he got his beloved and stalwart companion, the “Miracle Cat” Numi, who was by his side for 17 years. 


Aaron experienced severe Crohn's disease as a young child, which impacted him throughout his life. It was alternative and complementary medicine, particularly Traditional Chinese Medicine, that allowed him to live with that condition medication- and surgery-free. This inspired Aaron to pursue TCM as a life path. He was a gifted practitioner of acupuncture, Jin Shin Do, acupressure, and other modalities. He practiced medicine with intuitive, almost magical abilities, sensing where to place his needles rather than relying on theory and standard formulas. Many have shared that he was the one who identified the root of what was plaguing them when no other practitioners or doctors could, that he changed their whole approach to health, that he took away pain that no one else could seem to tackle because he dug deeper into the spiritual and emotional, not just the physical. 


Aaron loved learning and acquiring knowledge, and sharing it with others. He thrived as a teacher and facilitator, leading QiGong and TCM workshops, and founding and leading men’s circles in Victoria and Rossland. He spoke effortlessly in front of a crowd and on camera, spinning elegant phrases and expounding profound wisdom off the top of his head. He was a master of language and would not hesitate to let you know if you used a word incorrectly or made a grammatical error (he was a self-aware pedant). His memory was a marvel, with a facility for remembering dates of personal and global significance. His inventory of Simpson’s quotes was encyclopedic and he had one for every occasion, boo-urns. He had a particular talent for misadventures, often dodging death, damage, and occasional (petty) arrest due to some wacky set of circumstances, mislaid plans, or sheer coincidence. His family would often remark “this would only happen to Aaron.” He had little interest in small talk and superficialities, always getting right to the real and deep stuff in conversation. He was intrigued by history, particularly military history. While part of his nature loved to learn about weaponry and strategy, his fascination was also driven by a desire to identify overarching narratives - how one event informs another -  and to understand conflict in order to work towards peace. He felt the suffering in the human and natural world deeply, ever since he was a child. He sought to alleviate that suffering first through activism, and then as a medicine person. In another universe, or if life had given him a little more time, he would have run for office and enacted change as a principled and visionary politician.


Aaron was strongly connected to his Jewish lineage, and carries the name of his people’s first high priest, Aharon, Moses’ brother. He grew into that namesake, especially in the months after his terminal diagnosis. He was the president of his congregation, Kolot Mayim, in Victoria, made show-stopping sourdough challah for Shabbat dinners, wrapped tefillin daily, and worked hard to bring together the Jewish community in Nelson and Rossland when he returned to the Kootenays. He believed in the power and importance of ritual, tradition, and ceremony. In another universe, he would have been an incredible Rabbi.


In 2018, at age 37, Aaron was diagnosed with colon cancer. After a year of treatment and surgery, he was cancer-free. The cancer returned in 2021, and, in June 2022 he was given a terminal diagnosis and expected to live a matter of weeks. He then persisted for almost 9 months, living in palliative care at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH). He repeatedly defied all expectations, bouncing back from many things we thought would be his end. Instead of railing against his situation, he would simply say: “destiny is mysterious.” When he learned the treatment options had run out, he resolved to face death with presence, consciousness, and gratitude. He was someone who always chased a feeling of “aliveness,” and sought to die “as full of life as possible.” He shared his journey through a series of Youtube videos (which you can watch on the Media page) that have inspired innumerable people with their candid emotions, wise insights, astounding courage, and incredible grace. He wanted to live fully and richly as he approached death, to make meaning of his remaining time. This led him to initiate the development of the Sacred Space at KBRH, so patients, their families and friends, and hospital staff can have a beautiful, restorative place to tend to the deeper parts of themselves. The KBRH admin were amazingly supportive, and if you’re ever at the hospital, we encourage you to visit the 3rd floor to experience this beautiful legacy of Aaron’s. 


Aaron resolved to die a good death, and that is what he did. He left on his own terms, surrounded by people he loved, fully present and in deep ceremony, leaving his body while singing with a powerful life force. The night before Aaron left the earthly plane, the skies above the Kootenays were illuminated with a spectacular dance of Aurora Borealis, heralding this radiant soul’s arrival. 

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