Sudbury

Sudbury moms hold 'nurse-in' to send message to security guard who asked breastfeeder to cover up

Approximately 40 nursing moms took over the food court at the downtown mall Friday afternoon for a “nurse-in,” a protest to remind security guards, and the general public, that breastfeeding in public is a human right.

Rainbow Centre 'shocked' by guard's request for mom to leave food court

A Security guard with Paragon Security patrols the Rainbow Centre in downtown Sudbury. Paragon is Ontario's largest privately-owned security company. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

"Get with it."

That's the message from a group of moms upset with the treatment of breastfeeding moms by a contract security guard at the Rainbow Centre in Sudbury.  

The group, approximately 40 nursing moms, took over the food court at the downtown mall Friday afternoon for a "nurse-in," a protest to remind security guards, food court restaurant owners and the general public, that breastfeeding in public is a human right.

The event was spurred on through a Facebook support group of breastfeeding moms upset that a woman was asked to cover up while breastfeeding, and then to leave the premises.

Jenny Labrosse helped organize the 'nurse-in' after hearing a security guard asked a woman to cover up while breastfeeding. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Jenny Labrosse, who helped organize the event, said news of the incident "didn't sit well" with her. 

She said there have allegedly been several incidents at the mall. In each of those, a security guard asked a breastfeeding mom to leave the food court.

Rainbow Centre management said they can only confirm an incident in October where a security guard asked a breastfeeding woman to leave. 

"I'm just hoping that the vendors and the security and the employees of the mall and even the community can see that we're not doing anything wrong, we're just feeding our children were where they're hungry," Labrosse said. 

"We're not going to deprive them of nourishment just because you're uncomfortable. It's 2020. This is ridiculous. We shouldn't have to be fighting for our right to feed our children."

Stephanie Proulx was supported by her father, Theo Noel De Tilly at Friday's 'nurse-in.' (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Stephanie Proulx lent her support to the event, even though she has never encountered anyone asking her to cover up while breastfeeding.

"I think because we do have to support each other as moms, and we all kind of share in the same experiences although everyone is different," Proulx said. "I wouldn't want to know that my sister and my friend was told to leave for feeding her baby. It's natural, and honestly, people just have to get over it."

Proulx was joined at the event by her father Theo Noel De Tilly.

"I'm here to support [Stephanie] because I believe that children should be allowed to be fed by their mothers in a natural way. Anywhere, anytime, without any issues."

Noel De Tilly said he was encouraged that there seems to be more acceptance of nursing in public, moreso than when he was raising his own kids.

"But I was kind of disappointed, to be honest with you, when my daughter first brought it to my attention," he said. "I thought in this day and age why should this demonstration have to occur?"

Stickers like this are now visible on restaurants in the Rainbow Centre's food court. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Robert Green, manager of the Rainbow Centre, said he supports breastfeeding moms "100 per cent."

"It can't be said often enough that women's rights are human rights and we're greatly appreciative that people have been brave enough to come to the fore to try to assist this young woman, regardless of the kind of scattershot of the details of what occurred," he said. 

Green said he took quick action when news reached him– through his security supervisor–  of the guard's actions in October. Green said he was "completely offended and shocked."

The guard, employed by the centre through Paragon Security, is no longer with the company. Green said he had been released by Paragon, but not because of the incident at the food court.

"But if that wasn't the case, that guard would absolutely have been removed regardless because of this event," Green said. "This would have precipitated his removal regardless."

Green said as manager of the Rainbow Centre he can pick which guards patrol the mall. 

Green said the Rainbow Centre also reached out to Public Health Sudbury and Districts for educational material in the hopes of ensuring the public that the centre is a family-friendly venue.

He said he has also personally reached out to the mom who was asked to leave in October.

"The young woman that I spoke with I actually got a text from her, she did return to the property today," Green said. "So she felt comfortable and confident and so hopefully the message that this group is promoting will ultimately be positive for the community."

As for the other incidents in December and this month, Green said Rainbow Centre Management is investigating, and is asking anyone who may have witnessed an incident to contact the centre immediately.

When asked for an interview, Paragon Security said they had "no comment."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.