I was harassed for nursing at local diner, city police backed it up. - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-14-2008, 01:28 AM
 
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So, I don't see a straight answer there, just lots of theory about whether the Code should or should not be law. Is it law, or no? Anyone know for sure? I always believed it is.
I think maybe what might be helpful is looking at if maybe a precedent has already been set in a related case. Good luck!

My feeling is if it's part of the Ontario charter, and covered under the Canadian charter (which could then be brought to the Human Rights commission), it is law. Just my two cents.

As far as your nurse-in, wish I could be there! I'm in Alberta though...

Do advertise it on facebook, that's always good for pumping up numbers. I'll attend it (in spirit) so some of my Ontario friends will see it as well.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:37 AM
 
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It's a pdf from the ohrc web sit. Here it is in html:

http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:...ient=firefox-a

It's on page 15 under services, goods, and facilities.

Ah, thank you. THat is where I saw it before. I actually clicked on that today, but it crashed my browser, then I forgot all about it. D'oh.

DS 12/22/05 and DD 5/24/09
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:38 AM
 
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A FB group is in the works and apparently it's been mentioned on Twitter too. The word is getting out and quickly too it seems.

LP
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:41 AM
 
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We have gone over this for many years every time an incident comes up. A nurse-in is the LAST step in a series of steps you can take. You need to file with the Human Rights Commission and file a formal complaint with the police department. Call you political representative in the body that passed that law, speak to a lawyer... Just calling the media for your 15 minutes of fame and standing outside with signs is a really poor strategy for effecting change.

Canada has some decent laws and good history on getting justice for women who have gone through what you have. SLOW DOWN and educate yourself first so you can be effective in how you handle this. Getting angry and raging outside a police station is not going to get you anywhere and could even result in some really negative publicity and even threats to you and your family.
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's not really about '15 minutes of fame' but about getting the word out that breastfeeding is normal and mamas/babies have rights to nurse unharassed, yk? You can have a nurse in without 'raging'.

I don't see why not to do that AND file a complaint? Why does it have to be the 'last step?' Don't get it. Filing a complaint is one thing but I think people need to get educated about bf as well, no?
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:13 AM
 
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I think too there has to be a recognized difference between a breastfeeding protest (which this is not meant to be) and a calm, quiet, nurse-in with the purpose of education. It's not likely to be a bunch of angry mamas IMO.

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Old 12-14-2008, 02:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah. We're Canadian.
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:54 AM
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I just want to say that I nursed both of my kids, sometimes in public, and sometimes in restaurants. Luckily (and surprisingly, since it was in the southern U.S.), nobody ever bothered me.

I am curious, though....IS a restaurant a public place? I always thought that "public" meant parks, beaches, malls, bus-stops....places that are owned by everyone.

A private business is not really a public place, is it? Some private businesses that I've patronized have had signs that say "we have the right to refuse service to anyone" or something of that nature.
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just want to say that I nursed both of my kids, sometimes in public, and sometimes in restaurants. Luckily (and surprisingly, since it was in the southern U.S.), nobody ever bothered me.

I am curious, though....IS a restaurant a public place? I always thought that "public" meant parks, beaches, malls, bus-stops....places that are owned by everyone.

A private business is not really a public place, is it? Some private businesses that I've patronized have had signs that say "we have the right to refuse service to anyone" or something of that nature.
If you read upthread you will see that a restaurant is considered a public place according to the Code. Not sure how legally binding the Code is? But yes it's considered a public place, and a human right to nurse wherever the mama has the right to be. Establishments that serve the public = public places, otherwise you get this tricky area where they can discriminate, and that's not cool.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:06 AM
 
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Some private businesses that I've patronized have had signs that say "we have the right to refuse service to anyone" or something of that nature.
I doubt that would fly in Canada. No right to refuse service to women, or red-heads, or any other group of people. Fortunately in Ontario that includes breastfeeding mamas too!
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:16 AM
 
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It's not really about '15 minutes of fame' but about getting the word out that breastfeeding is normal and mamas/babies have rights to nurse unharassed, yk? You can have a nurse in without 'raging'.

I don't see why not to do that AND file a complaint? Why does it have to be the 'last step?' Don't get it. Filing a complaint is one thing but I think people need to get educated about bf as well, no?
I completely agree that people need to be educated about breastfeeding - and that you can have a nurse-in without raging. The only thing that worries me is that the police will feel trapped into coming out against nursing mothers - which is a crazy position, but when confronted in public rash things can happen.

If the HR commission calls them and tells them how wrong they are, the police can apologise and have the chance to educate their members and come off looking good (or at least much better than before!) With a nurse-in, they are just going to look bad. And nobody likes to look bad. Why not give them a chance to get it right before pulling out the big guns of a nurse-in?

What they did was totally wrong and nasty to you and you want to make sure it happens to no other mama ( so awesome of you). I'm hoping that is possible without the situation becoming adversarial.

ETA: I still think this is an excellent time for public health to get involved and use this incident to do a breastfeeding in public promotional campaign like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_2v6...eature=related
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes that is a good point about creating an adversarial situation.

I guess I feel mad because the officer was *so rude* to me and self righteous. I'd like to see him look bad. But this is bigger than just him and me. Hmm.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:27 AM
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If you read upthread you will see that a restaurant is considered a public place according to the Code. Not sure how legally binding the Code is? But yes it's considered a public place, and a human right to nurse wherever the mama has the right to be. Establishments that serve the public = public places, otherwise you get this tricky area where they can discriminate, and that's not cool.
I did read upthread. And I understand what the Code says. Maybe I missed it because I was reading quickly, but who wrote the Code?

I guess what I'm getting at is that I do not think that anyone has a "right" to be in a shop owned by someone else. If I'm in an upscale restaurant and my child is screaming and disturbing others, the proprietor has the right to ask me to leave if the behavior doesn't stop. Some private businesses around here have signs posted that prohibit cell phone use in their establishment, because it annoys other customers.

What I'm saying is that I think it's dreadful and sad that there are still people bothered by a nursing mama, but as the law stands, isn't it within a proprietor's right to keep his/her other customers happy?
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:27 AM
 
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Hello,

I was involved in a recent incident that happened in Ontario. After having gone through some of it, the best advice I can offer (learned the hard way - mistakes) is to take a deep breath and let's talk about it a bit.

First of all, I would not suggest you organize a nurse-in or contact the media, yet. I would gather a group of support people around you to help you do some research - who to contact, past cases etc. This was really helpful to us. You can contact me privately because I may have a group all ready for you to join =}.

Second, gather the information specific to the Ontario Human Rights Code and breastfeeding.

Third, gather information about specific incidents in restaurants and that the Human Rights Commission ruled in favour of the mother. You may have a hard time finding information on rulings as many are settled through mediation. However, mediation has always gone in favour of the mother! I know there was an incident in a restaurant in Newmarket and a monetary settlement was awarded. Some incidents have a privacy part which means that those involved cannot talk about them, but you may be able to find past media on them.

Fourth, put together an information package for the restaurant and the police. Include in the letter a summary of the Human Rights Code and list the cases that have come up in other restaurants. In this letter ask for an apology from those involved and that all staff be educated on this issue so another woman doesn't have to face discrimination in their business. I would also include the phone number to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre so they can contact them directly for information. However, you can find a recent quote from them in the Toronto Star (November 13th - I think) by Susan Pigg where they indicate that breastfeeding in a privately owned (but open to the public) pool is discrimination. They don't say those exact words but point to the fact that all other cases have gone in favour of the mother. You can also include information from about the public health campaign - anytime, anywhere. Be sure to include why this is an important health issue for our society (long and short term risks of not breastfeeding, for both the mother and baby). That women need to be free to continue on with their lives, even though they are breastfeeding and if they can't, it can become a burden and more women will stop. You can also contact Dr. Jack Newman as I'm sure he would write you something. He is a world renowned breastfeeding expert, having worked at the hospital for sick children in toronto, opened the first breastfeeding clinic in Toronto and even consulted for the World Health Organization.

Fifth, wait for a reply. You can set a deadline in the letter above, just be sure to give them lots of time to educate themselves.

Sixth, I would contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. You can actually contact them first thing Monday and include their feedback in your letter. One of their staff is already working on a breastfeeding case so you may find it beneficial to request meeting with the same person. I would ask to meet with someone right away and then file a complaint.

Seventh, once you have a reply from the police and restaurant owner I would personally suggest you contact the media. As an educator I have a strong belief in letting others know that this is discrimination. If the response has been positive and you have received an apology then it can be a nice feel good article - 'Breastfeeding Mother Receives Apology'. BE WARNED! This avenue WILL generate negative feedback. Be very careful to not post information on public forums or in emails to anyone but your closest group. We all know how email can be totally misinterpreted and you don't need to give them fuel to cast negativity your way. When you speak to the media, keep it totally on the real topic - breastfeeding in public is a protected human right, the restaurant and the police violated that.

Lastly, I would suggest you not organize a nurse in. A nurse in seems to be considered a 'protest' to some and as such needs to follow the same rules as other protests. However, there is nothing wrong with you and your family returning to the restaurant to eat. I would suggest you bring a video recorder so you have a record of it. KEEP ABSOLUTELY CALM. Do not raise your voice (really, really, really hard in this type of situation). Be polite and explain that you have the right to breastfeed in a business open to the public. Be sure to state that you have provided them with information on this. If they still ask you to leave and/or cover up, then comply immediately. Each incident will be considered during a mediation, as will the fact that your second visit was done after the owner was informed it was discrimination. In this way they cannot claim that they didn't know. Of course you do not need to go back with your family, you can contact friends to go out to lunch. If you would feel more comfortable having others there nursing with you, then ask some of your breastfeeding friends. Just be absolutely sure not to post anywhere publically that you are planning any type of protest!

If you do decide to organize a protest at a later date, then contact the local police. I know, this seems odd because it could involve them. However, any type of protest is best done with the police so you can be sure YOU stay within the law. You don't need to give them fuel against you. It may mean that you have to be a certain distance from the front of the building etc. but at least you can work out the details. Keep it light and friendly, don't get into bantering back and forth. Plan activities for any kids that come, have hot chocolate etc. etc. If you go that big, then I would suggest you wait a bit so you can organize it properly. The reality though is that you will likely have a low turn out because many will not want to stand out in the cold, especially if they are breastfeeding - a Canadian draw back ;}

Well I hope this helps. I'm in no way an expert, just trying to offer some info based on recent experience.

Again, please feel free to contact me and I may be able to put you in touch with a group that can help you with some of the research and of course support.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:31 AM
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I doubt that would fly in Canada. No right to refuse service to women, or red-heads, or any other group of people. Fortunately in Ontario that includes breastfeeding mamas too!
No, I don't think that the right to refuse service would include entire groups of people. I'm talking about if I walk into a sandwich shop with no shoes on, they can ask me to leave.

If a store was asking people to leave for no apparent reason, I'm sure there would be an uproar and the store wouldn't stay in business very long.

On a side note....what about a bar? Does a nursing woman have the right to bring her baby into a bar, even if it's an 18+ or 21+ establishment? What about an adult novelty store? Just curious.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No, I don't think that the right to refuse service would include entire groups of people. I'm talking about if I walk into a sandwich shop with no shoes on, they can ask me to leave.
Well but bf mamas are groups of people, it's considered a human right, not like being shoeless.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,

I was involved in a recent incident that happened in Ontario. After having gone through some of it, the best advice I can offer (learned the hard way - mistakes) is to take a deep breath and let's talk about it a bit.

First of all, I would not suggest you organize a nurse-in or contact the media, yet. I would gather a group of support people around you to help you do some research - who to contact, past cases etc. This was really helpful to us. You can contact me privately because I may have a group all ready for you to join =}.

Second, gather the information specific to the Ontario Human Rights Code and breastfeeding.

Third, gather information about specific incidents in restaurants and that the Human Rights Commission ruled in favour of the mother. You may have a hard time finding information on rulings as many are settled through mediation. However, mediation has always gone in favour of the mother! I know there was an incident in a restaurant in Newmarket and a monetary settlement was awarded. Some incidents have a privacy part which means that those involved cannot talk about them, but you may be able to find past media on them.

Fourth, put together an information package for the restaurant and the police. Include in the letter a summary of the Human Rights Code and list the cases that have come up in other restaurants. In this letter ask for an apology from those involved and that all staff be educated on this issue so another woman doesn't have to face discrimination in their business. I would also include the phone number to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre so they can contact them directly for information. However, you can find a recent quote from them in the Toronto Star (November 13th - I think) by Susan Pigg where they indicate that breastfeeding in a privately owned (but open to the public) pool is discrimination. They don't say those exact words but point to the fact that all other cases have gone in favour of the mother. You can also include information from about the public health campaign - anytime, anywhere. Be sure to include why this is an important health issue for our society (long and short term risks of not breastfeeding, for both the mother and baby). That women need to be free to continue on with their lives, even though they are breastfeeding and if they can't, it can become a burden and more women will stop. You can also contact Dr. Jack Newman as I'm sure he would write you something. He is a world renowned breastfeeding expert, having worked at the hospital for sick children in toronto, opened the first breastfeeding clinic in Toronto and even consulted for the World Health Organization.

Fifth, wait for a reply. You can set a deadline in the letter above, just be sure to give them lots of time to educate themselves.

Sixth, I would contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. You can actually contact them first thing Monday and include their feedback in your letter. One of their staff is already working on a breastfeeding case so you may find it beneficial to request meeting with the same person. I would ask to meet with someone right away and then file a complaint.

Seventh, once you have a reply from the police and restaurant owner I would personally suggest you contact the media. As an educator I have a strong belief in letting others know that this is discrimination. If the response has been positive and you have received an apology then it can be a nice feel good article - 'Breastfeeding Mother Receives Apology'. BE WARNED! This avenue WILL generate negative feedback. Be very careful to not post information on public forums or in emails to anyone but your closest group. We all know how email can be totally misinterpreted and you don't need to give them fuel to cast negativity your way. When you speak to the media, keep it totally on the real topic - breastfeeding in public is a protected human right, the restaurant and the police violated that.

Lastly, I would suggest you not organize a nurse in. A nurse in seems to be considered a 'protest' to some and as such needs to follow the same rules as other protests. However, there is nothing wrong with you and your family returning to the restaurant to eat. I would suggest you bring a video recorder so you have a record of it. KEEP ABSOLUTELY CALM. Do not raise your voice (really, really, really hard in this type of situation). Be polite and explain that you have the right to breastfeed in a business open to the public. Be sure to state that you have provided them with information on this. If they still ask you to leave and/or cover up, then comply immediately. Each incident will be considered during a mediation, as will the fact that your second visit was done after the owner was informed it was discrimination. In this way they cannot claim that they didn't know. Of course you do not need to go back with your family, you can contact friends to go out to lunch. If you would feel more comfortable having others there nursing with you, then ask some of your breastfeeding friends. Just be absolutely sure not to post anywhere publically that you are planning any type of protest!

If you do decide to organize a protest at a later date, then contact the local police. I know, this seems odd because it could involve them. However, any type of protest is best done with the police so you can be sure YOU stay within the law. You don't need to give them fuel against you. It may mean that you have to be a certain distance from the front of the building etc. but at least you can work out the details. Keep it light and friendly, don't get into bantering back and forth. Plan activities for any kids that come, have hot chocolate etc. etc. If you go that big, then I would suggest you wait a bit so you can organize it properly. The reality though is that you will likely have a low turn out because many will not want to stand out in the cold, especially if they are breastfeeding - a Canadian draw back ;}

Well I hope this helps. I'm in no way an expert, just trying to offer some info based on recent experience.

Again, please feel free to contact me and I may be able to put you in touch with a group that can help you with some of the research and of course support.
Thanks for all this info, I appreciate your perspective!
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:37 AM
 
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I hear what you are saying but with discrimination it is different. Just as an employer doesn't have the right to discriminate against who s/he hires, a private business owner doesn't have the right to discriminate against anyone either. We are talking about a protected human right, not simply a whim or a wish, so if refusal of service is based on that, it's not allowed, unless there is a health and safety risk. This also applies to any trespass notices that may be issued. If it is based solely on the business owners discriminatory practices, then it is not allowed. This is why it is extremely important to not do anything that would give the owner the opportunity to keep you from this business for other reasons, especially if she hopes to return one day. Let the OHRC (or more accurately - mediation) sort this out for you and get you back in to this establishment. This business is privately owned but it is open to the public. That's an important point to keep in mind. If we didn't have these protections in place, then we would still have 'whites only' restaurants too.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:40 AM
 
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I guess I feel mad because the officer was *so rude* to me and self righteous. I'd like to see him look bad. But this is bigger than just him and me. Hmm.
: This whole thing makes me so angry that here I am googling public health 'breastfeeding in public is a right' campaigns after midnight! :

Trust me, you are not the only one who would like to see him look bad! But if it comes down to him looking bad or the whole police force supporting NIP, I'd rather see the whole police force come to support breastfeeding in public. It may not be an all or nothing issue like I've made it out to be, but when a group of people who deal with the public daily are challenged, they tend to get their backs up really fast and stick to whatever position they first came up with. Police forces, doctors, politicians - none are particularly good at handling public confrontation without getting adversarial.

I don't know how they will react to the HR commission, but if they see the error of their ways, this could be the start of a breastfeeding revolution in London. And if they don't see the error of their ways, it will still be the start of a breastfeeding revolution in London - they obviously picked the wrong Mama to tell to cover-up! And you know you have a whole group of MDCers who are right there with you.

ETA: I was posting as Sam S was so I missed that great post. Sam S's plan sounds like a good one.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:48 AM
 
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What I'm saying is that I think it's dreadful and sad that there are still people bothered by a nursing mama, but as the law stands, isn't it within a proprietor's right to keep his/her other customers happy?
Not if it involves a discriminatory practice. If a customer was bothered by seeing a person in a wheel chair in a restaraunt, they wouldn't be able to tell them they couldn't stay, because that would violate the law. Proprietors can't refuse service based on something like race/ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, etc. The way I understand it, in Ontario breastfeeding discrimination is viewed legally as sexual discrimination, and therefore is illegal.
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Old 12-14-2008, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay so after all of this discussion I have decided not to do a nurse in at this time, and I am going to start instead with providing information to the restaurant and police and requesting an apology and a change of action. And I am going to contact the Human Rights Commission on Monday.

Thanks for all the help! I will let you know what transpires.
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Old 12-14-2008, 10:16 AM
 
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TM- so sorry this happened. I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible for you as you work to bring something good out of this situation.

I can't believe that you were repeatedly hassled - even after Z was finished eating. That is just appalling. Personally, I would do as you decided and not do a formal nurse in.... however I might be tempted to tell every breastfeeding mother I know to eat at the resturant.... and be ready to stand up for themselves. Just to put the owner's underpants in a knot. "Just think of all the exposed breasts out there! Oh my!"

Sorry, it's waaaaaaay too early for me to be posting.

Breeder Mama: = wife to an amazing man + mama to J-Bear (07/02) and E-Train (06/08), nanny to Little Bird (07/10).

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Old 12-14-2008, 11:48 AM
 
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I did read upthread. And I understand what the Code says. Maybe I missed it because I was reading quickly, but who wrote the Code?
The Ontario Governement. And it clearly includes restaurants as falling under "public places" for the purposes of the Code. This is NOT a Code like the WHO's Code re: breastfeeding which is actually voluntary.

DS 12/22/05 and DD 5/24/09
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Old 12-14-2008, 11:59 AM
 
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Sam S - Great, great post! I hope I remember to look for it if this every happens to me (which is going to be more likely with baby#2 as any shyness I may have had with baby#1 is looonnnng gone).

DS 12/22/05 and DD 5/24/09
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Old 12-14-2008, 12:04 PM
 
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Okay so after all of this discussion I have decided not to do a nurse in at this time, and I am going to start instead with providing information to the restaurant and police and requesting an apology and a change of action. And I am going to contact the Human Rights Commission on Monday.

Thanks for all the help! I will let you know what transpires.
SOunds great. And seriously - if there is any way I can help, PM me. I know that with the OHRC etc these are calls you have to make yourself - but if anything needs doing I can help. My sister is very skilled at writing and can help word a letter well if I ask her (she's in Ottawa).

DS 12/22/05 and DD 5/24/09
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:28 PM
 
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Great advice from Sam S It sounds like you are taking a better approach to seek real change within the community now. Yay! If at a further date, a nurse-in is planned then the turn out would likely be greater and more positive.

LP
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittlePeanut View Post
Great advice from Sam S It sounds like you are taking a better approach to seek real change within the community now. Yay! If at a further date, a nurse-in is planned then the turn out would likely be greater and more positive.

LP
Yes! Amazing advice, thank you Sam S.

And yeah I'm feeling better about this approach. It's hard to know what to do in situations like this!
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:16 PM
 
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Thismama, you're awesome. They really messed with the wrong mama.

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Old 12-14-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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Just wanted to lend my support and applaud your level-headed way of trying to effect change -- I'll be reading this thread with interest for any updates -- good luck to you!!

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Old 12-14-2008, 06:55 PM
 
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Oooh, that makes me mad. 'People are trying to eat'??? The BABY'S trying to eat, you UAVs!

Good luck with your complaint! The fact that the police are so ill-informed is really disgusting. Grrrr!

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

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