High school friends of Kamala Harris in Montreal applaud her victory

Harris spent five years living in Montreal and graduated from Westmount High in 1981.

Harris spent five years living in Montreal and graduated from Westmount High

Kamala Harris is set to become the first female vice-president of the United States. (Associated Press Photo)

On Saturday afternoon, it was announced that Kamala Harris is set to become the first Black, South Asian woman elected vice-president of the United States.

Harris lived in Montreal for five years as a teenager and graduated from Westmount High in 1981.

Wanda Kagan, who was a close friend of Harris in high school, said she was thrilled to hear the news.

Kamala Harris graduated from Westmount High School in 1981. (CBC)

"I was so excited," she said in an interview with CBC's Adrienne Arsenault. "Especially for my daughter also, who is a strong independent Black woman. It's meaningful for everybody."

Kagan told CBC that being friends with Harris changed her life as a teenager and that she named her daughter after Harris' sister Maya.

"When I was in high school I was being molested by my stepfather, and Kamala and I were best friends. I shared the story with her, which is not always easy to do, to tell someone. And I was close with her. I told her and she went home and told her mom and her mom, she said, 'she has to come stay with us.' So I stayed with them for the latter part of the high school year."

Watch a clip of Wanda Kagan speaking with CBC News here:

Wanda Kagan, a high school friend of Kamala Harris, reacts to her win

2 years ago
Duration 2:11
Kagan attended Westmount High School with Harris in 1981.

Dean Smith, another classmate of Harris' at Westmount High, compared her win to a triumph of love over hate.

"Good always wins," he said.

Smith told CBC he has nothing but good memories and positive things to say about Harris.

"She was always a nice person. How you see her right now, smiling, laughing all the time, is exactly how I remember her 40 years ago."

Dean Smith, a former classmate of Kamala Harris's at Westmount High School, says he has only good memories of her. (Radio-Canada)

He said this win, the first for a woman of colour in this position, will be an inspiration for young people watching.

"It's good for young girls to see that your parents can come from different countries but you can be in the [U.S] and you can make it," he said.

After the news broke, Westmount High School posted a congratulatory message to Harris on Twitter.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

With files from Chloe Ranaldi