Kamala Harris, the U.S. senator from California named on Tuesday as Joe Biden’s running mate for the Democratic presidential ticket, spent a good portion of her early life in Montreal, and graduated from Westmount High in 1981. Both of her parents were distinguished academics. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast-cancer scientist originally from Chennai, India, brought Harris and her sister, Maya, to Montreal in the 1970s when she took a job teaching at McGill University and doing research at the Jewish General Hospital.
Her father, Donald Harris, was born in Jamaica and is a retired Stanford University economics professor .Her parents divorced when Kamala was 7,
The move to Montreal from California was precipitated when her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer specialist, landed research work at the Jewish General Hospital and a teaching job at McGill University For five years, from Grade 7 to Grade 11, Harris attended Westmount High School Montreal. She graduated in 1981. Dean Smith, a former classmate, recalled Harris as “perfect, always smiling, a nice person” on CBC’s Let’s Go Tuesday afternoon.
“She got along with everybody,” Smith said. “It was a lot of rich kids from Westmount mixed in with kids from the lower area of Montreal. She popped up from California. She could blend with both.”
Harris, who served as California’s attorney general before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2017, was born in Oakland, Calif.