The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones: African Refugees’ Stories of Extraordinary Courage, winner of the Winnipeg Public Library’s On The Same Page Book Award (described as a book every Manitoban should read) presents a collection of personal accounts of heartbreaking loss, and the resilience needed to begin again in a new country.

Candidly told in their own words, the subjects reveal the uplifting truth of their unbreakable human spirit. A wide assortment of men and women ranging in age from four to seventy-three represent a variety of African countries and backgrounds. Their compelling stories span from experiences in their African birth countries to their new home in Manitoba. These inspiring insights challenge assumptions and encourage understanding. All author proceeds from the sale of this book will go to micro-lending opportunities and post-secondary bursaries for the African community of Manitoba. Visit the Philanthropy page of this website for further details.

  1. How familiar were you with refugees’ stories prior to reading The Lucky Ones? Have these personal stories changed your perceptions of refugees?
  2. Were there specific stories that challenged or surprised you?  Which ones and why?
  3. Which stories resonated with you the most and why?
  4. Have you ever moved away or been stripped of most/all of what you knew in your life? Do you know anyone who has? What does it take to start again?
  5. What coping strategies are used by participants in the book? What attributes helped them create resilience? For you in your life?
  6. Both Muuxi and Seid speak of having to “let go of their old lives” in order to integrate fully (page 25, 43). Do you think newcomers should have to give up their culture and adopt Canadian culture? Is it possible? What price is paid for this choice?
  7. How much do you think Canada’s future relies on bringing in refugees and immigrants? What are the upsides and downsides of this?
  8. In Anonymous’s story he speaks of not just needing a bed to sleep on but of the things that will bring him the peace that he needs for a good night’s sleep (page 163). What can established Canadians do to help newcomers “sleep better at night”?
  9. Raqiya speaks of being raised an independent and strong woman (page 83). Does this surprise you? How do we perceive Muslim women today?
  10. Deborah’s story is one about immigration (pages 144-157).  Why do you think the author included her story in this collection? 
  11. Do you consider Noma a refugee or an immigrant (page 107-119)? Why?
  12. What role does faith play in these personal stories?
  13. What is your opinion of the title? Are these participants lucky?
  14. Why do you think the author chose to write these stories in the first person?
  15. Have these stories inspired you?
  16. Choose one of the stories from the book and compare and contrast this individual’s experience to your own. How are you similar? How are you different? Try to question deeper than just gender, class, race, power, and culture.
  17. How do the stories of newcomers in this book compare to the experiences of First Nations People of Canada? Is there common ground? Differences?
  18. Consider a list of all your networks or connections to people (family, friends, neighbors) who can help you when you need assistance (looking for a job, solving a specific problem etc.) and then consider the same access to networks (or lack of) that newcomers have. What value do these networks or social connections bring?

Thank You

Thank you to the Winnipeg Foundation for valuing these stories and honouring them by funding the distribution of The Lucky Ones in school and public libraries in Winnipeg. 

All photography for The Lucky Ones by Keith Levit Photography. Copyright 2013, Anne Mahon. All rights reserved.