Store apologizes to breastfeeding mother
A Montreal store has apologized to a woman who was asked to leave the shop last week because she was breastfeeding.
Shannon Smith was nursing her five-month-old daughter last Wednesday at the Orchestra baby clothing store in the Complexe Les Ailes shopping centre on Ste-Catherine Street.
Smith said she and another mother were breastfeeding discreetly in a private corner of the store when a store clerk and later the manager asked them to leave. They told her she shouldn't be breastfeeding in the store and pointed her to a private room in the mall for that purpose.
"I was just so surprised that in 2011 … this still happens," said Smith. "I guess I was under the impression that this sort of thing had been settled a long time ago."
Irritated, she told the story online in a blog, and soon after, a group of nearly 100 local mothers began planning a "nurse-in" demonstration at the downtown store on Jan. 12.
Smith said she has been amazed by the support she has been getting regarding the incident.
"The response has been overwhelmingly supportive," she said on her blog. "I've been getting this constant feed of comments and emails."
On Monday, she received a letter of apology from Jean-Claude Yana, president of Orchestra, who said the company allows breastfeeding in stores and that an employee has been disciplined over the incident.
Smith said she accepts the apology.
Julius Grey, a constitutional lawyer, said public breastfeeding is not explicitly protected in the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, although it is protected in some provincial human rights codes. Grey said it is rare that anyone complains about it, however.
"Prohibiting breastfeeding is one of the sillier things that I can think of," he said.