Elsie Tellier missed part of her first day of Grade 12 on Thursday, but she had a good reason -- she wants to help people learn about human rights.
Elsie, 17, is one of just 360 people accepted as volunteers by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
During a brief ceremony on Thursday inside the museum at the facility's Garden of Contemplation, Elsie and the others were lauded for their contributions to come by museum staff and federal Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover.
"Human rights has always been a huge interest with me," said the Vincent Massey Collegiate student.
'The museum isn't just here for one thing. It's here to open the public's eyes about things not just in the past, but also what is happening today. I hope in educating individuals we can already make a difference'
"The museum isn't just here for one thing. It's here to open the public's eyes about things not just in the past, but also what is happening today.
"I hope in educating individuals we can already make a difference."
Elsie, who lives with cystic fibrosis and uses a wheelchair, said she has felt discrimination at times, so it gives her an insight and perspective into the stories about human rights that the museum will showcase when it opens Sept. 20.
"I've experienced discrimination being disabled," said the teen who also volunteers as an ambassador with the Children's Wish Foundation.
"I have something to share. Everyone deserves to live in an equal and free society."
The CMHR expects volunteers will do a combined 11,000 shifts per year and contribute 32,000 hours of time.
All the volunteers were subject to Child Abuse Registry checks and the minimum number of hours they had to commit to is 100 in the first six months.
Glover said she's pleased Prime Minister Stephen Harper was able to help bring the late media mogul Izzy Asper's museum dream to reality.
"He's a prime minister who stood up and said, 'We'll do this,' " she said.
"He knew this needed to be done... my children and future generations will benefit from the telling of these stories here."
CMHR CEO Stuart Murray said "volunteers are like a generous giving thread of energy.
"You brought your experience, time and talent to this museum."
Murray said the 500 people who showed up for a volunteering information session, and the website crash as people sought one of 9,000 free tickets, shows the interest in the museum both here and across the country.
"Canadians are getting engaged in its vision and want to be part of the conversation," he said.
"It's you who will make the difference... you will help deliver an exceptional visitor experience."