Out in the Open

Being single in a small community means your private life is public

Ryan Oliver tells Out in the Open about the challenges of being a newly single person in a small northern community where everybody knows everybody.
Pangnirtung, Nunavut (Submitted by David Kilabuk)

Pangnirtung, Nunavut is a fly-in community of about 1,400 people. The community is tight-knit and housing is limited. So when Ryan Oliver's marriage dissolved after seven years, it was hard to go a day without seeing his ex — who had found a new partner — because they still lived in the same house.

Ryan Oliver (Courtesy of Ryan Oliver)

Ryan's new found "freedom" ended up being an experience of loneliness. He turned to dating websites, which were liberating when he was on them, but as soon as he logged off he had to face the reality of where he lived. 

"I think for most people what a courtship process looks like in a community like Pangnirtung is being around each other all the time and knowing each other from work, knowing each other from community events and attempting to find those moments when you can have a few minutes of privacy."

The reality of dating in a small community like Pangnirtung is that your personal life is public.

"There are very few places to go on a date ... and certainly if you did it would be in front of a good percentage of the entire community. So, you know, in a lot of ways your business is everyone else's business."