The official government petition that was started after I was kicked out of a store for breastfeeding in public, is winding its way through various Quebec government offices.
The latest: a parliamentary committee has recommended that the law be changed.
It still isn’t quite justice.
When I was kicked out of a Montreal store for breastfeeding, one of the first things I did was to write a letter to the store and ask for an apology. The second was to file a human rights complaint.
I’m happy to say that the complaint has now been settled out of court by the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
How a petition becomes a law
An official Quebec government petition was created after I was kicked out of a store for breastfeeding. On May 3, it was presented to the Quebec National Assembly (p. 223) by Carole Poirier, provincial MNA for the Parti Québecois in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. The petition had 5696 names including both the online and paper signatures. Not bad!
And on to the next one
I received an email this week that just made me so angry. It was a letter from another mom who wrote that just last week the exact same thing happened to her. She says that she too was kicked out of a store for breastfeeding.
Last Thursday, April 21, a mom says she was asked to leave a public area of Les Promenades Saint-Bruno shopping centre on the South Shore of Montreal. The mother, Kama, says she was sitting on the garden swings on sale in the central area of the mall, breastfeeding her baby, when a sales clerk approached her and told her stop.
“She told me that I would have to leave because “C’est publique.” “Publique!?”, I repeated, “Madame, c’est tres acceptable d’allaiter en publique maintenant.” She then carefully schooled her features into a more pleasant expression and said “Je n’ai rien contre ça, Madame. Ce n’est pas moi qui a fait la loi.”
Carry On, Sister
When I first put up this blog, I thought maybe 30 people would read it. And I would know them all. Try almost 14,000 so far. And I definitely don’t want to know them all.
Why? Because some of them are truly horrible people.
I was kicked out of a store for breastfeeding and this blog has been a great way to get my story out. It’s also been truly inspiring the wonderful positive response I’ve received from complete strangers. Just go to my original post and read the comments.
On the other hand, there are still some people in this world who think that the best way to keep a woman quiet is to threaten her with violence. Yes, even for breastfeeding.
It’s federal election time again in Canada. So when the parties call you or knock on your door, you should probably ask then what they think about public breastfeeding.
Because if you don’t ask, they won’t know it’s important. And it is.
And they won’t say anything about it. And they should.
What should happen every time a woman is in the news for being kicked out of a store for breastfeeding in public, is a loud vocal reminder from politicians that they’ve already made a law that prevents discriminating against breastfeeding: a federal law, a provincial law, and yes you can even have a municipal law that protects breastfeeding, though these are rare.
But what actually happens when it comes to politicians…. is very little.
Out of the mouths of babes
My older kids are 4 and 2 and both were breastfed. They’re used to seeing me and almost all the mothers they know breastfeed their babies, and not just at home. To them, it’s just normal.
They tell me when their sister is hungry. “Feed her, feed her!”
They remember not to share their snacks. “She’s too little for [toddler snack food], she only drinks breast milk.”
They breastfeed their dolls.
And they ask lots of questions. “Why don’t daddies breastfeed babies?”
So I was worried about what they would think after this whole thing.
Private vs Public
About a week after I was kicked out of a store in Montreal, a similar incident occurred in Vancouver. (The date on the story says March 23, but it was first published on January 11.)
According to the Vancouver Sun, the store owner told mother Samantha Watt that “It was shocking to me, especially when she said, ‘I can do what I want,’” he alleged. “I told her it was a private space compared to a public space.”
It’s a commonly held opinion. In fact several people wrote to me to tell me that they think stores are private spaces and store owners should be able to do what they want.
They are wrong.
How my breasts got their 15 minutes of fame
You could tell by the second question and the last question the journalists asked me, that this was going to be a story about my breasts. And about Charlize Theron’s breasts.
Breastfeeding Photo Project
Are you a breastfeeding mum in Quebec? Interested in making public breastfeeding more accepted?
There is a cool photo project called “Allaiter partout… simplement!” [Breastfeed everywhere… of course!]. The plan is to take photos women breastfeeding in public, for a gallery showing this October during International Breastfeeding Week.
The organizers hope that by showing photos of women breastfeeding in public, the general public will get used to the idea and be more accepting.
You can participate by contacting the group via their website or facebook group. They are especially interested in including photos of twins, toddlers, tandem nursing, visible minorities, etc.