WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton mother vows never to return to a local children’s play centre, after she says she was told to breastfeed her young child somewhere else. Shallima Maharaj reports.
EDMONTON — An Edmonton mother says she will not be returning to a local children’s play centre after the way she was treated for breastfeeding her son in the public space.
Jamie Lynn Davis was at the Fun Dome with her mother, husband and three children on Thursday when her seven-month-old son began to fuss. She nursed him without incident, but a short while later he got hungry again so she sat down in the same place as before and began to nurse him again.
“The person who was behind the register came over to me and she told me that I couldn’t do that there,” Davis explained.
“I got my daughter to come over and throw a cover over me and she said, ‘Oh, no no. I mean you can’t feed him here at all. We have a separate room in the back that you can go to.”
Davis says she couldn’t believe what was being asked of her and tried to explain that she had a legal right to breastfeed her son anywhere she is lawfully allowed to be.
“They kept insisting, now two other employees with her, that that’s not how it works there.”
Feeling somewhat ganged up on, Davis says it’s what came next that really shocked her.
“Another mother was overhearing and she had said that, ‘Yeah, this is Canada, we don’t do that here. Go back to your own country.'”
“When (the woman) said, ‘Go back to your country’ I felt so bad and I felt like there was a big discrimination against us,” added Davis’ husband, Mahmoud Abu el maati.
Born and raised in Canada, Davis was furious, so she packed up her family’s things and told her kids it was time to go.
“I can’t leave three kids all in separate areas with no supervision while I go in a back corner to feed the baby.”
While waiting outside for a taxi, Davis says she was approached by the general manager of the Fun Dome.
“He told me that I need to consider other people’s comfort. He would tell me (it was) the same thing as if I were to come in and start smoking because it would make other people uncomfortable. I tried to explain to him that smoking and breastfeeding are in no way related.”
Calls from Global News to the Fun Dome were not returned Saturday, but the company posted the following response on its Facebook Page late Friday night:
“We, the Fun Dome, would like to establish that we SUPPORT breastfeeding 100%. We do NOT support negative confrontation which had developed between two patrons yesterday.
The mom who was breastfeeding her child was NOT asked to leave. Our staff ONLY approached her with available options in case she preferred to nurse in a quieter space (due to the confrontation that arose). She chose to leave, on her own accord. The other patron with the negative comments about breastfeeding was asked to leave by the FD staff and she left. There were no racist comments said by the staff, only by the other patron.
In regards to the smoking comment: The GM was referring to the other mother who was reacting negatively, and relayed it as a metaphor where people respond differently in controversial situations. Case in point, it was taken out of context, and the GM was NOT insinuating that breastfeeding is the same as smoking. The GM also said that an apology was given to the breastfeeding mom for the behaviour of the other woman and for the negative experience at the Fun Dome.
I trust this clears up any misunderstandings.”
Davis maintains she was first approached by Fun Dome staff, not the other mother. She says she’s received an overwhelming amount of support from people across North America since sharing her experience on Facebook on Friday. She hopes this situation will educate others on the rights of mothers to breastfeed their children.
“It’s so great to see that there’s such a big support for breastfeeding moms and I hope they continue to spread the word that it is normal and moms shouldn’t have to go and hide.”
Davis says she was also offered coupons for another free visit to the Fun Dome, which she refused.
Momstown, a mom-focused event company, has been invited to host a pro-breastfeeding info session at the the Fun Dome. On its Facebook page, Momstown says the Fun Dome will also issue a formal apology during the session. The info session is being held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8 at the Fun Dome.