NWAC is committed to advocating for violence prevention and the development of concrete actions to keep Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people safe, especially with rising rates of Domestic Violence (DV), Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), and femicide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Summary:

With COVID-19, the frequency and severity of DV and IPV increased worldwide, creating what activists refer to as a “shadow pandemic.” DV may include abuse in the form of physical, sexual, financial, emotional, psychological, cultural, spiritual, or reproductive violence between a parent and child, sibling(s), or roommates within a residence. IPV is pattern behaviour meant to gain or maintain power and/or control among romantic partners. IPV can occur between people who either live in the same or different houses. It is the most prevalent form of gender-based violence. The implementation of pandemic restrictions was intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, it resulted in many Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people becoming more vulnerable to violence as their access to support and safety was affected.

COVID-19 and the Rise of Violence:

The implementation of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and lockdowns has increased occurrences of gender-based violence. Movement restrictions, isolation with abusers, aggravated mental health, piled upon underlying issues of unresolved addiction, stress, and/or financial insecurity, have resulted in more abuse for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. These conditions made accessing support networks including friends, family, kin, and social services more difficult. Resources that were previously available for victims have been diverted to respond to COVID-19, such as funding for emergency shelters. Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people were already disproportionately affected by DV and IPV due to existing structural inequalities, which intensified during the pandemic.

NWAC’s Role:

NWAC is the national leading voice against all forms of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. We support and advocate for their safety through violence prevention strategies and services.

  • NWAC submitted information to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on June 17, 2020. The “Impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples” report declared that “The steep rise in domestic violence has shadowed the current Covid-19 pandemic in Canada, as has also regrettably been the case elsewhere.”
  • NWAC created “You Are Not Alone” toolkit for Indigenous women escaping domestic violence. The toolkit provides “Information and strategies to make healthy and positive changes,” and includes:
    • Signs of an abusive relationship: To help identify DV, IPV, and signs of an unhealthy relationship.
    • Safety planning for women leaving an abusive relationship.
    • Tools and exercises for self-care and building self-esteem.
  • NWAC’s Resiliency Lodge in Chelsea, Quebec, offers in-person and virtual Elder-led support and empowered-healing intervention geared toward violence prevention. The Resiliency Lodge also provides navigational support for legal and social services for women and gender-diverse people impacted by DV and/or IPV.


  • Globally, pre-pandemic, one in three women experienced physical or sexual violence, usually by an intimate partner. There has been an increase of 20 to 30 percent in gender-based violence in some areas in Canada due  to COVID-19 lockdowns. 
  • In Canada, 92 women and girls were killed in the first six months of 2021, compared to 78 during the same period in 2020. In 2019, 60 women and girls were killed in Canada during the same time. 
  • Six in 10 Indigenous women experience IPV in their lifetime. 
  • Nearly nine in 10 (or 86 percent) of Indigenous women who identify with a minority sexual identity (e.g., lesbian, gay or bisexual) experience IPV in their lifetime. 
  • Indigenous women have reported increased violence during pandemic lockdowns. In May 2020, 17 percent experienced violence (physically or psychologically) in the previous three months, compared to 10 percent reporting violence from their spouse over the previous five years, as reported in 2014.

Recent Articles:

Recommended Resources

Bradbury-Jones, Caroline and Louise Isham. 2020. The pandemic paradox: The consequences of COVID-19 on domestic violence.

Native Women’s Association of Canada. October 2020. “Fact Sheet: Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA People in Canada”.

Native Women’s Association of Canada. 2015. “You’re Not Alone: A toolkit for Aboriginal women escaping domestic violence”.

Native Women’s Association of Canada. 2020. “COVID-19 International Resources List”.
UN Women. 2021. “The Shadow Pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19”.