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Would you eat in the bathroom?

By Carol Martin
SooToday.com
Saturday, August 06, 2011

Karrie Oliver is a breastfeeding advocate and a mom of two children who breastfeeds on demand.

Best Start Hubs, the La Leche League, Metis Nation, Indian Friendship Centre and Algoma Public Health all agree with Oliver's assertion that breast is best.

Even the Ontario Human Rights Commission agrees and it has entrenched a woman's right to breastfeed in to law.

"You have rights as a nursing mother. For example, you have the right to breastfeed a child in a public area," says the commission website. "No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to 'cover up', disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more 'discreet'."

Which is why Oliver (seen at home today with her daughter Olivia and son Emerald) was so shocked and angered when a uniformed Algoma Central Properties Station Mall security person asked her to either cover up or take her baby to the bathroom to feed him on Friday.

"I told him I would not and what he was doing was breaking the law," she said. "He was not dissuaded and told me if I did not stop he would have to remove me."

Oliver told the security person that she wanted to speak with the mall manager but not before her son was finished.

The guard went to the office then returned a short while later - after Emerald, Oliver's son, was finished nursing.

"Not being one to leave before things are resolved I gathered my two children and entered the office where he was," she said. "The part that got me was his boss suggesting that I cover up. Then I was curtly told that I could go back about my business."

The irony of this incident is that it happened the very day that Oliver's picture appeared in the Sault Star as part of a story promoting National Breastfeeding Week, this week.

"We need to encourage our mothers to breastfeed, not humiliate them," Oliver said. "What I would like is a written apology, better yet, I challenge the management of the station mall to invite Algoma Health to hold an educational event and permanently display posters that let the public know that they are in a breastfeed friendly place."

The security person and his supervisor told Oliver they asked her to cover up, or move to a private place like the bathroom, because a customer complained.

"As for the customers who complain," she said. "No one hassles you when you are eating. Nor would anyone tell you to go and eat in a bathroom."


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