Breastfeeding uproar

A business in Telkwa has recently come under fire for posting a sign asking mothers to cover up while breastfeeding.

“Please be respectful of yourself and of other people and use a cloth of some form to cover yourself or you will be refused service,” stated the sign.

There’s no question that the business owners, although very respectful, hard-working and well-intended people who make delicious pastries (as I know them both personally), were wrong.

In British Columbia, all mothers have the legal right to breastfeed in any public area – including restaurants. Asking a mother who is breastfeeding her child to move or cover up is illegal.

I am absolutely certain that people would’ve understood or forgiven them if the owners had simply explained that they weren’t familiar with all the laws in B.C. – as they both moved here from other places – and had sincerely apologized.

Instead, the owners posted on their Facebook page an explanation.

“For the record, the ladies that started this rant were always respectable when feeding their babies and this decision had nothing to do with them, but only one person. This person obscenely flashed her breast and she was not feeding her baby.”

A mother who suspects she is the person that the owners were talking about, explained on Facebook, “I was there for morning coffee with a group of regulars. It is not my first time nursing there, but it is the first time I nursed while sitting in such an obvious seat. My daughter gets easily distracted, and latched briefly before someone at the table got her attention and she whipped her head around, leaving, you guessed it, my nipple exposed. This happened a couple times, before the woman beside me started to make jokes.”

I think part of the reason for the uproar is that people do not feel that the shop owners have sincerely apologized. I get that. But on the other hand, are people taking this issue a bit too far?

Hundreds of people have written negative comments of all sorts on social media, criticizing the shop owners, the business itself and expressing how outraged they were. According to the Smithers Interior News, mothers organized a sit in at the bakery last week and the shop owners themselves have been approached numerous times about this issue.

So far only CBC and the Smithers Interior News have reported on this, but it might just be a matter of time before this story is picked up provincially or even nationally.

People who felt hurt by their sign certainly have the right to speak up and even file a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. But people can also simply choose not to shop there.

Organizing a sit in and bashing the business online seems to go beyond that.

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