Charges of fraud against twins Amira and Nadya Gill, who live in the Toronto area and received scholarship money after claiming to be Inuit, have been dropped after their mother, Karima Manji, entered a guilty plea in Iqaluit Friday morning.
The twins were both facing two counts each of fraud over $5,000. In court, the Crown said the twins didn’t know about the “fraudulent” Inuit status, but their mother did.
When asked by the judge whether Manji was pleading guilty of her own free will, Manji’s answer was “yes.”
According to an agreed statement of facts read out in court, in 2016, Manji, 59, filled out two forms for enrolment with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the organization that is responsible for ensuring the rights of Nunavummiut are upheld. Enrolment would give make the twins beneficiaries of the Nunavut land claim agreement and access to scholarship money.
“In the enrolment forms, Karima Manji included information that Nadya and Amira were Inuit children, that their birthmother was an Iqaluit woman named Kitty Noah, and that Karima Manji was the adoptive mother of the children,” the court record 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 was provided with NTI enrolment cards which included numbers under the Nunavut land claim. Cards were provided for both daughters and provided to Manji as the applicant.
“Karima Manji, being the birthmother 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. The court heard that the twins were unaware that their enrolment was fraudulent.
After receiving the enrolment forms, the twins received sponsorship money from Kakivak Association, “an organization serving Inuit by, among other things, providing sponsorship funding to Baffin Inuit for education-related expenses.”
“From September 2020 to March 2023, the total amount paid out to Nadya and Amira Gill was $158,254.05,” according to the agreed statement of facts. “A further $64, 413 was on hold for Amira Gill in the spring of 2023, but was not paid out.”
According to the court record, in 2018, Manji submitted another application to NTI seeking enrollment for herself as a beneficiary. She included on the form that she was adopted by Inuit parents. The application was unsuccessful.
Nunavut RCMP charged the three women in September, after receiving a complaint that they used Inuit status to defraud two organizations.
Twins received other money
Both twins have received bursaries and scholarships based on their enrolment card and Inuit status.
In 2017 Amira won a $4,000 scholarship from HydroOne, the Ontario utility company. The online announcement lists Amira as Inuk. This appears to be the first public reference that the sisters are Inuit. The twins are listed as born in 1998, making them either 18 or 19 at this point.
The scholarship was named in recognition of a First Nations judge – the Honourable Justice Leonard Mandamin. The award is granted annually to First Nations, Métis and Inuit post-secondary students.
In 2018, Amira also won an award for Indigenous students from RBC, one of Canada’s largest banks that was previously called the Aboriginal Student Awards program. Award winners get $4,000 per academic year for two to four years.
Amira won two bursaries from Indspire, an Indigenous award-granting organization that provides bursaries to Indigenous students. The award amounts were undisclosed but Amira was granted a bursary in 2020 and 2021 according to their annual reports.
Indspire policy for determining Indigenous identity is having an Inuit Identity card.
Amira and Nadya have appeared in media and on podcasts talking about their desire to give back to the Indigenous community through their company.
A 2021-2022 Indspire annual report shows that Amira Gill made a donation to Indspire in the $5,000 to $9,999 range.
In Spring 2021, the sisters are both featured by Indspire as donors and award recipients. This is the first place they appear to publicly list themselves as members of Nunavut Tunngavik.
In March 2023, the alleged mother in Iqaluit, Kitty Noah, filed a complaint with NTI about the twins. Following that, NTI launched an investigation and the twins were eventually dropped from enrolment. Noah died in 2023.
The court heard that Manji has a criminal record. On Aug. 16, 2017, she was sentenced for one count of fraud over $5,000. She received a conditional sentence order of two years, less a day, followed by a one-year probation group for that event.
Manji is scheduled to be sentenced in June.