Adolescent Khaled lives with his drug-addict French-Canadian mother Monique in a Toronto tenement, his Moroccan father totally out of the picture. He is often bullied at school being a visible minority. He has lived in foster homes in the past, but both he and Monique cling to each other as the only family each has, and as Khaled had been abused in past foster homes. Monique has taught him to be suspect of authority as they believe any authority's prime motivation is to separate them. This need to be together is despite Monique not being able to take care of him properly as witnessed by them living on canned soup and stolen frozen pizza. Khaled has had to grow up faster than he should as he largely takes care of Monique, who is often bedridden, and as he defends himself and another immigrant kid named Ivan against their bullies.