Life, love and struggle in a polyamorous relationship

In this preview of the upcoming Veracity episode Thoroughly Modern Families Pat Taney meets a “Power Triad” for a glimpse into their non-traditional lives.

By Pat Taney

The face of Canadian families is changing. In a series of reports and in an upcoming documentary, CityNews is looking at non-nuclear families. Households that may not look like yours but are fighting to be seen and heard.

In rural Ontario, in the small town of Tara, about 35 kilometres outside Owen Sound, stands an old church surrounded by open fields and farmland.

It’s not uncommon to find churches here, where congregations have disbanded long ago, converted into single family homes. But inside this one is a family that represents a more modern way of life, far different from the people who used to gather at this Christian church decades ago.

“We sometimes get stares but for the most part people just let us live our lives,” said Aaron Matthews.

He along with Maggie Giamatalo and Grace Pierrot form what’s known as a polyamorous triad. Three people romantically involved and living together with the same level of commitment as a monogamous couple.

“Aaron and Maggie have a relationship. Maggie and I have a relationship. Aaron and I have a relationship. Together we all have a relationship together, the power triangle,” Pierrot said.

Families like this one are not new but are striving to be counted.

“There’s very little research available in terms of the numbers of polyamorous individuals in Canada,” said John-Paul Boyd Q.C., a Calgary-based attorney specializing in family law.

“The fault for that lies with the fact that Statistics Canada doesn’t collect data on that kind of a relationship when it conducts its annual census,” Boyd explained.

Back in 2016, Boyd surveyed several people who identify as being polyamorous for the Vanier Institute of the Family.

By definition, being polyamorous means a person does not limit themselves to loving or being involved with just one other person.

RELATED: Polyamory vs. Polygamy: What sets them apart?

“In that survey conducted by the research institute, we found that something on the order of 83 per cent of respondents believe that the number of people who identify as polyamorous is increasing and that the number of people who are openly living in a polyamorous relationship is also increasing.”

But families like this still battle stigmas, for one, polyamory is often mistaken as polygamy.

“That’s what a lot of people still think polyamory is,” Boyd said. “Especially in what we see on television, such as ‘Sister Wives’, ‘Big Love’ and in the trial of James Oler and Winston Blackmore here in Canada.”

Oler and Blackmore, members of a fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were tried and convicted for plural marriages in B.C. back in 2017.

Boyd points out polygamy and polyamory are two different things entirely.

“The kind of polygamy that we see being practised is firstly patriarchal and secondly, it’s religiously mandated,” Boyd said.

Polyamory is not that.

“One of the key values of people who identify as polyamory is equality, regardless of gender identity and regardless of parental status. And they are not mandated by God in general. These are individuals who are pursuing their heart.”

In Canada, it is still illegal for more than two people to get married. But Boyd argues the right to marry is not a fight polyamorous groups put on the forefront in their battle for acceptance.

“Polyamory doesn’t imply any necessity of marriage. It’s not predicated on that.”

Maggie, Grace and Aaron say families like theirs don’t need a wedding ceremony to prove their commitment. Instead, they find themselves fighting other stigmas associated with their lifestyle.

“A lot of people assume it’s a fetish thing or a kinky thing. And that’s not why we’re doing this,” Giamatalo said.

But this triad — who live openly — say times are changing.

“It’s getting easier,” Pierrot said. “People are starting to just accept it. I’m out to my family and friends.”

But with another census just finished, families like them once again were not counted. That’s a big reason this triad agreed to share their life with CityNews.

They join others who are defying the norms in an upcoming documentary called Thoroughly Modern Families. They hope their stories will help open minds.

“I can love Aaron and I can love Maggie. I love my mom. I love my cats. It’s love but a different form of it,” Pierrot said. “Why do I have to limit myself this way? Why do I have to only love one person?”

“As long as everyone’s an adult and consenting, love can’t be wrong,” Giamatalo said.

While the three of them make it look easy, being polyamorous does come with several challenges.

This documentary takes you inside their homes and lives to give you a very intimate look at these different lifestyles.

Along with this triad, we follow the lives of others in families that fall outside of what’s considered traditional.

From a mother in Kitchener who talks about how to raise kids while being polyamorous, to a couple who’s not polyamorous but instead represents another growing lifestyle: platonic parenting which is when two people who raise kids without any romantic or sexual connection.

Veracity: Thoroughly Modern Families airs Sunday January 30 at 9 p.m. ET on Citytv.

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