New mom Alexandra Shimo was at an event with her two-and-a-half month old baby, Jacob at the Lambton Golf and Country Club in Toronto’s west end when he began to fuss – pretty normal for a baby that young. Assuming he was hungry, she sought out a discreet spot in the corner of the hallway and began nursing – until staff alerted her that she was disturbing other patrons and asked if she could come down to the basement where she would be out of sight.
“They sent Alex to the basement saying people didn’t want to see her while they were eating,” said Lia Grimanis on Facebook in a post about the incident. “This is what they saw.”
In the accompanying image, Shimo can be seen fully clothed, holding her baby.
In an interview with CTV News, Shimo discussed her surprise at the reaction.
“I’d been happily feeding Jacob and a couple people came up and said how sweet he was and I thought that it was really quite idyllic. Then the restaurant manager came out and said a few people had complained because they ‘didn’t want to see this while they were eating,’ because we were in the sight of the restaurant.”
Embarrassed, Shimo followed the manager downstairs to the basement.
“I was slightly embarrassed because he made me feel like it was a shameful thing by sort of covering me up and saying people didn’t want to see it.”
Shimo has been shocked by the response the Facebook post has received, both locally and internationally.
“We had messages from people in Denmark, from the U.K., from the United States and all across Canada,” she said. “I think we’ve really tapped into that idea that we’re not going to go quietly into the basement anymore, this is our right to breastfeed.”
As well, the Lambton Golf and Country Club’s Facebook page has been flooded with one-star reviews shaming the facility for the incident.
“Shame on you guys for forcing that nursing mother into the basement to breastfeed. I think you should be fined for this. We allow it in church and we don’t say anything. I see this everywhere and it doesn’t bother me. I think you owe restitution and an apology to this woman for this,” said one commenter.
Another quoted the Ontario Human Rights Code.
“Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sex, including pregnancy and breastfeeding. A website belonging to the Ontario Human Rights Commission indicates that no one can ask you to ‘cover up’ or require you move to a more ‘discreet’ area while breastfeeding.”
But some agreed with the facility’s decision to move Shimo, giving the facility a five-star rating.
“All this crap about breastfeeding why not get a breast pump that’s why they sell them!! Stop with all the human rights s— we all have rights and some have the right not to have to see that! I have 2 kids and never felt the need to breastfeed in public!”
While the golf club still has yet to release an official statement regarding the incident, Shimo is simply hoping for an apology.
“This is 2016. We’re tired as women being made to feel ashamed of our bodies,” she said. “This is a natural and beautiful thing and it’s also a human right.”