Knowledge Resources & Publications

Home remedies: Addressing domestic violence, racism, and sexism in the context of COVID-19

July 2020


Due to colonization and patriarchal systems, racism, poverty, domestic violence, devaluation and hypersexualization of Indigenous women have become normalized for Indigenous Peoples. In spite of these inequities, Indigenous Peoples are resilient, strong and continue to thrive. The isolation experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to increase the rate at which families experience domestic violence, sexism and racism especially since survivors are likely in social isolation with their abusers. This volatile situation has exacerbated the frequency and severity of domestic violence cases (The New York Times, 2020). The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) survey on COVID-19 reveals an extremely troubling trend in increasing incidents of domestic violence being committed against Indigenous women and children.

In this webinar held on July 28, 2020, we discuss findings from NWAC’s survey, how to stay vigilant for signs of domestic violence, and how to be discreet and tactful in your approach to confronting domestic violence as an advocate. Specifically, racism and sexism operate via external power structures which significantly contributes to poor health in certain disadvantaged groups and this will be discussed at length (Bourassa, McKay-McNabb, & Hampton, 2004). Also, poverty and homelessness are major factors in exposing people to threats of violence, crime, incarceration, or exploitation. We examine the complexities poverty and homelessness pose for these populations within circumstances in a pandemic such as COVID-19, particularly since it has put a considerable strain on homeless shelters and domestic abuse relief homes throughout Canada.


Dr. Carrie Bourassa B.A., M.A., PhD: Scientific Director of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health – Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Professor, Community Health & Epidemiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan. She is an adjunct in the Faculties of Education and Kinesiology & Health Studies at the University of Regina and is the Nominated Principal Investigator for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funded Morning Star Lodge established in 2010, based in Regina, as well as for the recently CFI-funded Cultural Safety, Evaluation, Training and Research lab that will be built by next summer, hosted at the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa spent over 15 years as a professor of Indigenous health studies in the Department of Indigenous Health, Education and Social Work at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) in Regina.

Through her role as Scientific Director of IIPH, she leads the advancement of a national health research agenda to improve and promote the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Canada.

From Little White Buffalo Kwe of Bear & Loon Clan, Roberta Oshkawbewisens is an Odawa/Ojibawe Nookamis, from Wiikwemikoong, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Born and raised with many siblings and cousins, being taught by grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles about life with our land. She is a proud mother and grandmother, aunt, relative, dancer, bundle carrier, educator, and believes in her traditions as she is guided through the stages of life by grandmothers and grandfathers.

Elder Oshkawbewisens has worked with individuals, groups, organizations, political leadership, providing guidance in progressing through trauma and other life events with ceremony. She has also spent time with Women’s Organizations and Committees across Canada (coast to coast) in various ways when requested, worked in Education at various levels as Student /Advisor Support, Traditional/Cultural Teacher, and Grandmother. Roberta has worked in and with Friendship Centres, Healing Lodges/Centres and travelled across Canada as Trainer/Facilitator. She is presently a Grandmother with NWAC & the Resiliency Centre and a resource for U.I.O., C.O.O., and A.F.N. Roberta enjoys and values full heartedly her involvement with First Nation, Metis, Inuit People and the work she does.

Webinar Resources