Breastfeeding sit-in supports Montreal mother told to leave Eaton Center

Nursing mothers gathered at the Montreal Eaton Center on Sunday to show their support for a woman who was ordered to leave the mall because she was breastfeeding her son.

Dozens of parents showed up to take part in the sit-in.

“Spend your day when you see a woman breastfeeding her child,” said Valérie Laframboise, who organized the event. “They’re not trying to seduce you, they’re not trying to show off their bodies. They’re just trying to do one simple thing and that’s feed their kids.”

Ivanhoé Cambridge, owner of the Eaton Center, and property manager JLL said they were both in favor of the protest.

“The Montreal Eaton Center encourages breastfeeding in all of its common areas,” said Melyssa Houle, director of JLL, when asked about the incident.

JLL notes that the mall also offers private breastfeeding rooms “for those who prefer to breastfeed in a quieter location.”

The protest comes after Isabelle Côté said a security guard told her last weekend that she had to stop breastfeeding her four-month-old son Leopold or leave the premises.

“The security guard came up to me and told me that I was not allowed to breastfeed in that particular location. I was not allowed to breastfeed in public,” she told CTV News. “I asked her why, and then she said, ‘It’s because it’s a private act.’ It’s something I shouldn’t do in public.”

The former lawyer and current psychiatry resident at McGill University says she asked to speak to a supervisor, who reiterated the message: please stop, go to the nursing room or leave.

“It’s still complicated, isn’t it? Like when baby’s hungry, he’s hungry here and right now and then if you stop in the middle of his meal, he’s going to get mad, he’s going to cry and it’s going to cause this whole crisis and I just didn’t want to not that,” Côté said, adding that she was so intimidated by the security guards that she gathered her things as quickly as she could and left.

A woman’s right to breastfeed her child is protected by the Quebec and Canadian charters of rights and freedoms.

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