GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – A private area to breastfeed infants in the arena was quickly set up at the Canadian women’s curling championship Thursday morning after women expressed concern over having to leave the building to nurse their children.
Curlers who are nursing were either going to the players’ lounge at a curling club a block away or had to find space near Revolution Place to breastfeed.
Nova Scotia second Blisse Joyce twice nursed her nine-month son in a vehicle in the parking lot.
“Our last night draw is tonight. A little late, but it’s good,” Joyce said Thursday. “Hopefully they’ll think about it next year. At least it’s out in the open now that it should be addressed.”
An area in the volunteers’ lounge at Revolution Place was draped off to provide an accessible and quiet space.
“We did have an area set aside over at the curling rink,” Curling Canada’s media relations director Al Cameron said. “Once we were aware there were complaints, we jumped on it.”
The players’ lounge is usually in the arena, but it is in a separate building in Grande Prairie because of space limitations at Revolution Place.
Children are not allowed backstage — in the concourses and dressing rooms at any major curling events — for safety reasons, Cameron said. Volunteers, television crews, ceremonies personnel and equipment make the area congested.
Joyce said she did sneak her son into the building for one dressing room feeding, but also ended up nursing by a vending machine at one point.
“It definitely rushed you in between games,” she said. “You had to rush your food or rush your baby’s food. I had to choose who it was going to be.”
Her skip Jill Brothers is also nursing and was shuttling back and forth between the curling club and the arena.
“It’s not about nursing in the public,” she said. “I don’t really care. It’s just about finding somewhere quiet and somewhere where my husband can hang around and wait for me so that he can take the baby afterward.
“It’s too bad it wasn’t a little bit earlier in the week because we did have four games in a row and things were back to back. It’s about a little bit of convenience.”
Cameron said there will be a designated breastfeeding area in the players’ lounge in the arena at the women’s world curling championship March 19-27 in Swift Current, Sask.