Louise Arbour Secondary honours ex-judge

One of Canada's most respected human rights advocates was honoured Tuesday by having a secondary school named after her in Brampton, just west of Toronto.

Brampton school named after acclaimed jurist

One of Canada's most respected human rights advocates was honoured Tuesday by having a secondary school named after her in Brampton, just west of Toronto.

"Louise Arbour is a passionate and dedicated human rights advocate who has worked to improve the human condition around the world," said school principal Linda Galen.

"Her philosophy and commitment will be reflected in the school's focus on social justice and in the encouragement of activities to help those in need around the world, and around the corner."

Galen added: "It will provide us with a role model for the kids all the time."

Arbour, a former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, former justice on the Supreme Court of Canada and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was on hand for the opening.

She said she was "honoured and, frankly, a bit overwhelmed" to have the school named after her.

"I am absolutely speechless," said Arbour. "You know, I was approached several years ago about this idea ... and I just arrived at the school this morning, to this building with my name on it. I'm totally stunned. It's very moving." 

Welcomed students

Arbour spent much of the day welcoming and chatting to students, many of whom had no idea who Arbour is. 

"I think there are almost 900 students who walked in the door here this morning. I would be very surprised if many of them knew who I am," she laughed.

But some of the students had heard of their school's namesake and were impressed with her commitment to human rights and justice.

"Wow, I'm meeting someone who's done so much for the world," said student Sahana Mohandas. "It felt good to shake her hand and everything. It felt good."

Alyssa Nancoo said: "Everybody here is just excited and overwhelmed that we get to be that school with her name on it, to make her proud." 

Stephanie Ramjass said she is "really into women and women-power ... so having a school named after her is like, amazing." 

Arbour said she hopes Louise Arbour Secondary School will help inspire students to get involved in their community and the world.