“Blending Cultures in Toronto,” Ensign, September 2014, 20–21
Located in the heart of Toronto, Canada, Kensington Market offers a slice of the world’s diversity. The narrow streets are lined with stands, shops, and restaurants featuring food from any number of cultures: Salvadoran, Mexican, Peruvian, and French, for starters. On any corner, you can find baskets of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, tables of warm, flaky pastries, and the vibrant patterns of various cultures’ traditional clothing.
Toronto’s patchwork of cultures is made of immigrants, natives, refugees, and students. Jonathan Porter, a 25-year-old young adult living in Toronto, says, “Serving beside members from so many different backgrounds in my ward helps me see the difference between the cultures around me—including my own Canadian culture—and the gospel culture. It’s cool to see that each culture espouses virtues that the gospel teaches are righteous. That provides communication based on the Holy Ghost, which helps people understand one another and transcend their own culture.”
Jonathan has seen the gospel’s influence in leadership roles too: “Even though leaders often have different leadership styles based on their culture, it doesn’t matter. They’re all called of God by revelation through priesthood authority, and they are blessed.”
For Jonathan, institute offers something he treasures: “Growing up in Toronto, I didn’t have many peers who were members of the Church, so I feel safe and welcome at institute. We are unified by our love of the gospel. Other people notice the way we live, see our standards, and recognize that we are unique.”
Jonathan’s experiences have taught him the importance of charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). “The young adults at institute are so different, it doesn’t always come naturally to love one another,” he says. “I’ve learned charity means serving others, even in small ways, and loving them regardless of where they’re from.”
This love and diversity blesses the missionary work. “So many people here are first- or second-generation converts. Sometimes people join the Church here and return to their countries and share the gospel with their families and bring strength to their cultures. To me, that’s the legacy of the Church in Toronto.”