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Protect breastfeeding: The right to breastfeed in public spaces


Skeena Bakery sign and breastfeeding decal on a window.
In New Hazelton, the Skeena Bakery welcomes nursing parents.

Happy Breastfeeding Week! This year's theme is "Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility." In line with this theme, Northern Health (NH) is committed to supporting breastfeeding-friendly spaces across Northern BC. We encourage all businesses and organizations to help build a positive community that recognizes the value of breastfeeding.

Did you know that the right to breastfeed is protected by law in BC? As per BC’s Ministry of Justice:

  • Nursing parents have the right to breastfeed their children in a public area
  • It’s discriminatory to ask a parent to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else

While these facts are not new, they may not yet be common knowledge. For this reason, NH aims to raise awareness and share resources on this topic.

Public Health Protection team steps up to help

Breastfeeding decal on a window
In Prince Rupert, Dolly’s fish market welcomes nursing parents.

Through inspections and education, NH's Environmental Health Officers (also known as Public Health Inspectors) have contact with many businesses and organizations across Northern BC. In early 2020, the Public Health Protection team's admin staff mailed info about the right to breastfeed to over 2000 facilities, such as those that offer food, leisure, or personal services. They sent:

  • A tipsheet: “Make breastfeeding your business: Welcome families to breastfeed any time, anywhere”
  • A window decal: “We welcome you to breastfeed any time, anywhere”

Carla Ceasar and Doug Quibell, regional managers with the Protection team, welcome opportunities to be collaborative and innovative in reaching out to our Northern communities. “Our program areas focus on protecting our communities, especially vulnerable populations. We were pleased to be able to coordinate, inform, and share resources with our partners. It was our pleasure to assist in such an important initiative and it’s our hope that the resources and knowledge support successful health outcomes in the North.”

Communities welcome decal and tipsheet

Businesses like the decal and tipsheet. One local manager stated, "I am absolutely delighted. I would have loved to have such a great campaign…when I was nursing my own children.” Another staff member shared, “Everyone should be able to breastfeed at anytime, anywhere. We want to create the most welcoming space for families.”

Breastfeeding decal on a window.
A breastfeeding decal on the front door of the lodge at Shames Mountain, near Terrace.

Some business owners have observed that since they posted the decal, they have had a greater number of breastfeeding clients visit their spaces.

Clients are happy with the decal too. Sydney, a local parent, shared this feedback: “I just wanted to say thank you for providing this decal! It’s such a huge relief to see it when I’m out and my daughter needs/wants to breastfeed. Thank you!”

A big shout out to the Public Health Protection admin team who worked hard to get these resources out to local businesses and organizations! Thank you for helping to protect breastfeeding in Northern BC.

Have you noticed the breastfeeding decal on doors in your community?

Learn more