You’ll see it on every license plate in the province. You’ll see it on coats of arms and marble statues. It’s the motto of the Province of Quebec: Je me souviens. It means “I remember.”
And this is a place where there is much to remember. The Province of Quebec is where France and Britain once battled for control of North America. It is the home of vast wildernesses and nomadic Native American tribes, where wise use of plentiful resources is still a challenge. It is the home of some of the oldest settlements on the North American continent, of walled fortresses and cobblestone streets now surrounded by business districts and skyscrapers.
And it is a place where the young Latter-day Saints who live here are acutely aware of many things they must remember, not just to maintain their sense of history or identity, but to live more fully the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Léa Dussault, for example, has a checklist she follows. “I work on it every day,” says the 15-year-old from St. Polycarpe, a tiny town on the Quebec-Ontario border near Hawkesbury. “I read the scriptures for 30 minutes, do at least half an hour of seminary, work with Personal Progress, and read my patriarchal blessing. I pray a lot, too. It gives me more confidence. At bedtime, I make sure all my spiritual goals for the day have been met. Otherwise, I won’t feel good when I go to sleep.”
Léa has a personal motto: “I choose to be one with Christ today.” She’s doing her best to live up to that statement.
“You must remember the blessings you can have by being faithful,” says Marc-André Côté, 15, of Chicoutimi. “Always keep that goal in mind. When Joseph Smith was discouraged once, the Lord reminded him to remember what he had been promised if he would remain faithful. [See D&C 6:13.] By thinking of the celestial kingdom and exaltation, you can find strength to overcome the struggles in your life.”
Marc should know. For four years he was away from the Church, but about two years ago he kept “asking myself what I was doing with my life. I was searching for something, and I remembered what I had felt in the Church. I felt the Spirit saying to me, ‘Go!’ So I decided to try it just one time. I had imagined it would be difficult to come back, but it was easy. It was even better than I remembered. I read a lot and studied a lot and really gained a testimony that this is the true church, organized the way the Savior wants it to be.”
Julia Awashish, a 17-year-old Native American from Quebec City, agrees with Marc. “We need to always remember the covenants we made at baptism,” she says. “The promises we have made to our Heavenly Father are the things that make us strong as members of the Church. It’s been six years since I joined the Church. I’m glad my mother and I joined, because it helps me so much when I have a problem to deal with, and it helps me remember to be happy, because the gospel is a message of joy.”
Julia says that when she and her mother returned to visit relatives in their village of Obedjiwan, which is far to the north of Quebec, at first “there was a lot of gossip about us being Latter-day Saints. But now everyone has seen by our example that we are friendly, normal people, so they accept us just fine.”
Vetséra Lapierre, 14, also from Quebec City, says she will always remember her first trip to the Toronto Ontario Temple to do baptisms for the dead. “I was so happy just to be with so many young members of the Church; the joy of it filled my eyes with tears of gratitude,” she explains. “It was something I had dreamed of for years, and now my dream was coming true. When we walked in the doors of the house of the Lord, I immediately felt a perfect peace, a spiritual strength that grew and grew as we did the baptisms. That feeling has stayed with me ever since. Now when I face a temptation, I remember how I felt in the temple. I always want to feel that peace, and I want to return to the temple again and again.”
Alexandra Gilbert felt a similar reassurance when she met President Gordon B. Hinckley at the dedication of the temple. The 14-year-old from the city of Alma says: “He wasn’t the President of the Church at the time, but now he is. He was going up the steps to go into the temple, and he paused and shook my hand and we chatted for just a moment. He’s very likable. I didn’t understand a lot, because he spoke only English to me. But I had a wonderful feeling about him. I’ll always remember meeting him, and I’ll remember that we have a living prophet.”
Robert-Emmanuel Duchesne, 13, lives in the little town of St. Monique, about 45 minutes from Alma on Lac St.-Jean. “Even though we go to a small branch, we do the same things others do in the Church. We have youth activities. We go to our meetings every Sunday. Sometimes when there’s something they want to do together, my friends will say something, but they know my Sundays are taken for church.” He made a promise to keep the Sabbath holy, and he remembers the promise.
He also remembers his commitment to magnify his calling. “There are only two Aaronic Priesthood holders in the Alma Branch, and that’s not a lot. But we do our best to serve, and I remind myself all the time that there are many young children in our branch who will grow up in the Church and who will make the branch grow. The younger kids need us to prepare the way, to work hard and be good examples.”
There’s a similar commitment to the Aaronic Priesthood in Rimouski, a town in the eastern part of the province nearing the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. “We’ve started gathering fast offerings door to door at all the members’ homes,” explains Hugo Lêvesque, 16. “We have to do some of them by car, because about 50 percent of the branch members live in other small towns in the area. But our branch president said that during the time of Joseph Smith the Aaronic Priesthood went door-to-door gathering fast offerings, so why shouldn’t we? It helps us remember our responsibilities.”
“I read scriptures with my family every morning,” says Olivia Montminy, 17, who lives in Scott and attends church in Lévis. “Then during the day I think of things I read in the scriptures or of the hymns we sang as a family and have them in my mind all day.”
She’s not alone. The youth of Montreal’s Lemoyne Ward study scriptures regularly, and each of them has a favorite passage. For Ariane Caron, 15, it’s where Nephi talks about writing what is pleasing to God, not to the world (see 1 Ne. 6:5). “I read that with my mother when I was young, and I felt such a great spirit that I had to stop and read it again. That really showed me that the scriptures are something that comes from God. That was the beginning of my personal testimony.”
For Olivier Carter, 15, it’s the story of the stripling warriors in Alma 53. “They remembered what their mothers taught them,” he says, “and they were totally loyal in keeping the commandments.” [Alma 53]
And for Esther Caron, 17, it’s Philippians 4:13 [Philip. 4:13]: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It’s a scripture she recalls frequently, repeating it over and over when she needs a reminder to have faith.
The LDS youth of Quebec know there are many things they should remember each day, such as the need to set a good example, to live the Word of Wisdom, to stay morally clean, to be kind to family members, and to share the gospel. But in all they say and in all they do, they strive to keep a covenant they renew through the sacrament each week—to always remember the Savior.
One of the best ways to make friends is to invite them over, right? That’s what the Montreal Ward of the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake did. Their new chapel created so much interest in the surrounding neighborhood of La Salle that ward leaders decided to open it up for tours.
And when they did, the youth of this ward played a major role. The Latter-day Saint teens served refreshments, directed parking, and greeted guests at the door.
“It was a good experience because it gave other people in the community an opportunity to know more about us—what we believe and what we do,” explains Melissa Poirier, 15. More than 300 non-Latter-day Saints toured the building.
When asked why his family had come to see the building, one man responded: “We watched you last year having a beautiful groundbreaking service. We saw the beautiful building going up. And now we want to see it from the inside. We are so excited!”
One woman said, “I have my own religion, but I was interested in seeing the building.” She spent hours asking questions, and when she left she said, “I didn’t know you believed in Christ. I am so impressed.”
The new building did bring a minor protest. “There were two men standing outside in the rain for six hours, handing out anti-LDS literature,” Melissa’s twin brother, Shawn, says. “We felt sorry for them, so we fixed two plates of cookies and took them out. They seemed grateful for the food.”
In addition to holding the open house, the ward also sponsored a dinner for the mayor of La Salle, the mayor’s council, the contractor, the designers, the architects, and other people involved in the construction.
“The dinner was quite fast paced, so we were on our toes most of the time,” Shawn says. “But we received many compliments. I think that was a good sign of community interest and acceptance.”