The Week — Oct. 4: Mother’s milk still preferred

B.C. celebrates World Breastfeeding Week, Every Step Counts makes its mark, wanted: police dog-man

In B.C., it’s considered discrimination to ask a nursing mother to “cover up” or breastfeed elsewhere.

Mother’s milk still preferred

With Women’s History Month kicking off this week, it’s little coincidence Oct. 1 to 7 marks World Breastfeeding Week. But if you missed the opportunity to join in the province-wide Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge on Sept. 29, your month doesn’t have to suck — you can still milk out those stigmas.

This year marks the 21st celebration of the week, with the gooey theme “The Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding.” And with good reason: research has shown that breastfeeding affects the health of babies throughout their lives, lowering the risk of ear infections, pneumonia, allergies, asthma, diabetes and some cancers. Mothers who breastfeed also have reduced risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

“I encourage all new parents to breastfeed if possible, and to continue for as long as mother and baby want,” says Minister of Health Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid.

With last spring’s sensational cover of Time Magazine showcasing 26-year-old mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her three-year-old son, fervent discussion has been ignited about attachment parenting and breastfeeding. But the experts say it’s an important time to consider our perspectives and preconceived notions when it comes to mother’s milk.

“World Breastfeeding Week is an important opportunity in B.C. to bring awareness to this major population health issue, to inform the public about the benefits and to encourage a shift in attitudes to support breastfeeding,” says Kim Williams, executive director of Perinatal Services BC.

Currently, B.C. has the highest rate of breastfeeding initiation in the country, at 97 per cent, though only 19 per cent of mothers continue exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. The B.C. Human Rights Code protects a mother’s right to breastfeed on the job, or anywhere generally open to the public — a pool, library, or even restaurant. It is considered discrimination in B.C. to ask a breastfeeding mother to “cover up” or breastfeed elsewhere.

A step in the right direction

Just before Thanksgiving, the Victoria Cool Aid Society is giving all Victorians a chance to make their workout — and their meals — count for more, with the Every Step Counts fundraising event, “The Fall Session,” stampeding the Atrium (1311 Blanshard) on Thurs., Oct. 4, 6 to 9pm.

With food from Zambri’s and Pig, musical talent and a silent auction, many patrons might not realize those volunteering at the event are participants of the program. Over 425 low-income, homeless and people challenged with addiction and mental health issues have been helped by Cool Aid’s Every Step Counts since 2009. The running group is a community initiative of the Victoria Foundation, and will see 45 participants try out for the Good Life Fitness Marathon this weekend. This is the fourth-annual fundraising event, which directly seeds the program.

Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door, or 10 for $300 and include food, music and non-alcoholic beverages. They can be purchased at Frontrunners (250-382-8181), Victoria Cool Aid Society (250-383-1977), or by emailing geasdon@CoolAid.org.

Job: become a police dog-man

Those still searching for work in this economy may be thrilled to hear there’s a new opening: as a dog.

Saanich Police Department is seeking humans willing to dress up as the team’s beloved police dog mascot, ‘Ace’ — a character aptly named in honour of a past serving police dog who, along with his human partner Sgt. Glen Mackenzie, won many national championships and “caught many bad guys.”

The department is looking to put together six teams of two people who would like to attend community events both “inside” Ace, as well as acting as his handler. This long-term position will be on-call, and applicants will receive training and support.

While the position is technically volunteer (and volunteers must be between age 19 and 54), the rewards include working with kids and seniors, riding along with Saanich Police to public events, and, well, getting to be a mascot.

To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/QVdHKd. M

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