A Toronto woman was recently asked to leave a restaurant after feeding her child in Wiarton, Ontario. You might think: “What else are you supposed to do with a hungry child at a restaurant?” Of course, it wasn’t the fact that she was feeding her nine-month old as it was how she was feeding her. Holly Treddenick was — gasp! — breastfeeding her daughter.
Shortly after arriving at the Irish Cottage Kitchen and Alehouse on July 10, Treddenick’s daughter became hungry, so she did what any mother would do: She fed her. Two male patrons of the restaurant took offence and spoke to the server to express their disgust at the situation. Treddenick said it was after this that the server approached her to tell her that she “should not be doing what she was doing,” that she was being “uncourteous,” and “offending the other diners.” When Treddenick informed the server that she had every right to feed her daughter there, the owner came out and repeated that she was not allowed to nurse there but could feed her baby in the washroom instead. This is when the mother of two left the restaurant.
Treddenick had been waiting for her friend to arrive at the restaurant, and once she did, they both went back in to speak to the owner. Expecting an apology for having her human rights violated, Treddenick and her friend, Angola Murdoch, were instead met with further argument. This time, two other male diners chimed in by yelling that Treddenick’s breastfeeding had ruined their dinner, and that her children (aged nine months and two-and-a-half years) were disruptive. The restaurant claims the women were then kicked out for taking part in this angry altercation and not for breastfeeding, but the women say they did not raise their voices to match those of the other diners. Treddenick posted to Facebook to say that they were “upset and shaken, but not yelling.”
The restaurant initially stood by its position on its own Facebook page when the story started going viral and even went so far as to call into question Treddenick’s parenting skills (“She exposed her baby to the hot sun on our patio while nursing”) but have since posted an apology.
Still, many in the community feel it’s too little, too late. A group of nursing mothers have already organized a protest outside the establishment, and many in the area have posted that they will go out of their way to avoid eating there. But hopefully, now better informed about Ontario’s human rights laws, the restaurant will become an example for other establishments on how to welcome all people who need to eat, no matter how young they may be.
Whatever your stance, the law is the law, and luckily, we live in a place where everyone has as much of a right to leave a restaurant when upset as a nursing mother has to stay when her child is hungry.