After almost four months of prayers, petitioning, rallying and legal intervention, the Yonge-Dundas Square (YDS) Board of Directors has decided to loosen – somewhat, their grip on the rights and freedoms of Christian organization, Voices of the Nations (VON).
In their first board meeting of 2016 held on February 4 at City Hall, the YDS Board and VON agreed upon an extensive, but not exhaustive list of mandatory conditions before the permit for the 2016 VON even was issued.
“I believe it’s a victory for all Christians,” said Voices of the Nations’ director Peter Ruparelia. “We can now say the name of ‘Jesus ‘in the public square,” added his wife Beena. I thank God for Marty Moore Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional freedoms, He was instrumental in helping us with this victory Oyelami said the fight with the YDS board has confirmed to him that it’s always best to “be honest about what your plan is. If they’re against it, fight it.”
“Stand up for your rights,” echoed Ruparelia.
The ordeal between VON and YDS began in October 2015, after a phone conversation between Leye Oyelami, Event Coordinator of VON and Natalie Belman, Manager of YDS. Belman had informed Oyelami that VON’s application for the permit for the 2016 staging of the event, which would have been in its sixth year at the Square, was denied, because they had violated the Square’s non-proselytizing policy.
“If you’re praising Jesus, ‘praise the Lord,’ and ‘there’s no God like Jehovah,’ that type of thing, that’s proselytizing,” Belman said.
That statement from the now notorious phone conversation sent shockwaves across the nations and even prompted an impassioned response from Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of world renowned Evangelist, Billy Graham in the United States of America.
A petition was then started by VON supporters and thousands of Canadians banded together, which resulted in approximately 40,000 signatures being delivered to Toronto’s mayor John Tory’s office.
The media got involved, Christians rallied within the vicinity of YDS and marched the streets of Downtown Toronto in protest of the injustice that was mere out to VON by YDS.
However, it was not until VON retained legal counsel that the City started to take notice.
And because of the collective support that was received, February 4, 2016 became a day of restoration, when the wind of freedom that Canada is known for, once again blew a gentle breeze across the pavement of YDS.
Ruparelia added that VON will be having their first event of the year on March 19, 2016, he also expressed heartfelt gratitude for all the support that VON received.
Ruparelia added a special thank you to the JCCF lawyer Marty Moore without his help this would not have not been possible.
“I just want to thank everyone who stood by us for the last few months. Everyone that prayed, signed the petition, rallied, and gave financially; thank you. Together we are strong and we will continue to stand and fight for the name of Jesus.”
The official date for the 2016 VON music festival has been set for August 6, 2016 at YDS.
Ruparelia is currently raising funds for the upcoming event and is asking anyone who is interested in giving to visit VON’s website at voicesofthenations.com.