Curling tourney adds breastfeeding area after player outcry
Nova Scotia skip Jill Brothers, centre, pauses for a moment with lead, Teri Udle and second, Blisse Joyce during the fourth draw against Northern Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie, Alta. Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, February 25, 2016 1:31PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 25, 2016 8:39PM EST
Organizers for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts are addressing complaints from several female curlers over the availability of private breastfeeding areas.
Several female players initially complained that a designated breastfeeding area was set up at the Grande Prairie Curling Club, one block away from Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta.
The two buildings are 180 metres apart – a distance covered, on foot, in approximately two minutes.
Scotties organizers say they've moved to better accommodate the players' needs with a more convenient breastfeeding area inside Revolution Place, while insisting no one was ever "forced" to leave the event building.
"We set up a private area if they wanted to take advantage of it," Al Cameron, Curling Canada's director of communications and media relations, said of the curling club area.
Cameron told CTV News Channel on Thursday that the Revolution Place venue is very small, so organizers initially put the breastfeeding area in a nearby building because of space concerns.
"This is a very, very small, compact building," Cameron said. He said the backstage area at Revolution Place is busy, so "there are no children allowed backstage."
The Revolution Place arena has fixed seating for up to 2,975 spectators, according to the City of Grande Prairie's website. A curling game typically takes about two hours to play.
Cameron added that players have always had the option to breastfeed in the stands at the event, after fans have cleared out between curling matches.
That means mothers had to either walk down the block to a private breastfeeding area, or wait for the approximately two-hour curling event to end, and the fans to leave. The tournament has an approximate two-to-three-hour gap between scheduled back-to-back games.
In an effort to address the concerns, Scotties organizers have draped off a section of the volunteers lounge at Revolutionary Place, to offer players a private place for breastfeeding inside the venue.
"We listened to their concerns and we're glad we addressed them," Cameron said.
Curling Canada plans to make an easily accessible breastfeeding area available at their next event in Swift Current, Sask., next month.
"We typically do take this into account," Cameron said. "It's just this is a very small venue."