Iqaluit family pleased with 3-year sentence for Karima Manji

Sentence to be a “significant deterrent” for those considering defrauding Indigenous organisations

Karima Manji

A view of the Iqaluit courthouse where Karima Manji was sentenced to three years for Inuit identity fraud on Thursday. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN.

The Noah family says it’s pleased with the prison sentence handed Karima Manji, a non-Indigenous woman who fraudulently enrolled her children as Inuit.

“The sentencing went a lot better than expected. We were hoping for two years less a day. So, to go above and beyond that and give her three years – it’s a good day for us, for sure,” Noah Noah, son of Kitty Noah, told APTN News.

The three-year sentence handed down Thursday followed Monday’s sentencing hearing in Iqaluit with Crown attorney Sarah White and defence lawyer Scott Cowan.

According to Noah Noah, Justice Mia Manocchio rejected the lawyers’ joint, 18-month sentence recommendation saying “a period of incarceration would be appropriate.”

Manocchio went on to say that Manji, 59, “victimized the Inuit of Nunavut by stealing their identity.”

According to an agreed statement of facts, Manji filled out two forms to enrol her daughters Nadya and Amira Gill with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the organization that is responsible for ensuring the rights of Nunavummiut are upheld.

Enrolment would make the twins beneficiaries of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement with access to scholarship money.

“In the enrolment forms, Karima Manji included information that Nadya and Amira were Inuit children, that their birth mother was an Iqaluit woman named Kitty Noah, and that Karima Manji was the adoptive mother of the children,” the sentencing agreement said. “Karima Manji sent the enrolment forms to NTI. The Community Enrolment Committee approved the applications for both Amira and Nadya in May 2016 and October 2016, respectively.”

When the enrolments were approved, Manji and both daughters were provided with NTI enrolment cards.

“Karima Manji, being the birth mother of Amira and Nadya, provided false information on the Enrolment Forms about Nadya and Amira’s birth and eligibility for enrolment,” the statement of facts said.

The court heard twins were unaware their enrolment was fraudulent. Amira and Nadya were born February 26, 1998, in Mississauga, Ont., to Manji and Gurmail Gill (father).

“From September 2020 to March 2023, the total amount paid out to Nadya and Amira Gill was $158,254.05,” said the statement of facts. “A further $64, 413 was on hold for Amira Gill in the spring of 2023, but was not paid out.”

“An investigation into the false Inuit status of the Gill sisters was initiated by the family of Kitty Noah raising the issue. Both daughters were removed from the NTI Enrolment list in April of 2023.”

Noah Noah remembers the day he learned about the fraud.

“It was 2023 when it came out. I found out about this situation through my sister. I am not on Facebook, so my sister was the one who brought me into the fold to let me know what was happening. This was how we found out initially,” he said.

Referring to the sentence, he added “this certainly gives us peace of mind knowing that she isn’t going to just walk away from this and not have any consequences. So, this is fantastic.”

The Noah family said while they had never heard of the twins, they do know of their mother, Manji.

Kitty Noah died in July 2023.

Background of Manji case

Lawyer Anne Crawford of Nunavut, who was not involved in the case, said the sentence sent an important message.

“The idea of going to jail for three years, I think, will be an intimidating possibility for people at large. I think it will be a significant deterrent,” she said.

The twins collected numerous bursaries and scholarships directed toward Indigenous students under their fraudulent identity, including Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures program and Hydro One’s Leonard S. (Tony) Mandamin Scholarship.

They also received thousands of dollars from Kakivak Association, according to NTI.

The twins were each facing two counts of fraud over $5,000 but those charges were dropped when Manji pleaded guilty. The Crown said neither girl knew about their “fraudulent” Inuit status. The agreed statement of facts also confirmed the twins did not have an Inuk parent.

This was not Manji’s first fraud offence.

APTN has reported that Manji was charged with defrauding the March of Dimes organization in 2015 for nearly $800,000. According to records obtained by APTN, she was ordered to pay back $250,000.

Manji was a long-standing employee of the corporation.

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NTI’s reaction was mixed.

“While NTI welcomes the guilty plea of Ms. Manji, Nadya and Amira Gill, the individuals who benefitted from this fraud, are not part of the guilty plea.” it said in a statement on its website. “Among other things, Nadya Gill and Amira Gill received $158,254.05 in funding from Kakivak Association, the organization responsible for administering scholarships to eligible Nunavut Inuit in the Qikiqtani.”

Nadya and Amira Gill have since been removed from the Inuit Enrolment List.

“This was the first known fraud enrolment case at NTI,” the statement added. “To prevent this kind of fraud from occurring again, NTI … have since adopted additional requirements for applicants to provide written documentation to verify their claims in certain situations.”

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