August 24, 2013 1:12 pm

Prince George mall under fire for telling breastfeeding moms to leave play area

A Prince George, B.C. mall is under fire for asking mothers to stop breastfeeding in a children’s play area.

Carmen Marcotte said she was supervising her toddler in the play area at the Pine Centre Mall while breastfeeding her newborn discreetly when a security guard asked her to leave.

“It made me feel discriminated against and totally targeted to be singled out for breast feeding,” she said. “It made me feel like less of a person. Why should my baby have to go eat in a bathroom when no one else has to?”

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Marcotte said she was asked to move to a different area that wouldn’t have allowed her to supervise her other child in the play area.

After her story started circulating online, hundreds of comments were posted on the Pine Centre Mall’s Facebook page saying the policy was a violation of human rights.

“I am very disappointed in the mall for asking a breastfeeding mother to leave the play area! This is discrimination and disgusting behaviour! Breast feeding is the most natural thing in the world! I now hate your mall,” Kendra McQuinn posted on Facebook.

The mall initially said in a statement that while they encourage and welcome breastfeeding in all common areas of the mall, they do not permit it in the 900-square-foot carpeted play area.

“It is the only carpeted area in the mall. Pine Centre wishes to maintain that play area to the highest standards for health, safety and overall enjoyment for the thousands of children who use it,” the statement said, adding that the adjacent washrooms are being renovated and mothers are allowed to breastfeed there.

However, as backlash grew, the mall revised their policy to allow for breastfeeding in the area.

“Pine Centre would like to sincerely apologize to all those affected by the breastfeeding issue in our play area. After careful review and consideration of your comments we are revising our policy on this issue. Breastfeeding will now be allowed in our “Pine for Play” area,” read the statement posted Saturday morning.

Marcotte said that while the change in policy is a step in the right direction, the initial statement telling mothers to feed their babies in the bathroom was “completely offensive.”

“I feel that they owe an apology to a lot of mothers who were singled out and targeted,” she said.

Marcotte and other mothers staged a nurse-in at the mall at noon Saturday to protest the incidents.

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