The Iqaluit RCMP charged twin sisters from Kingston, Ontario, and their mother with two counts of fraud of over $5,000 for claiming Inuit status when they were not Inuit.
“An investigation began earlier this year and it was found that between October 2016 and September 2022, the women were found to have applied for and obtained Inuit beneficiary status as adopted Inuit children through Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporation (NTI),” stated the RCMP in a release.
Police say the woman used the Inuit beneficiary status to defraud the Kakivak Association and Qikiqtani Inuit Association of funds only available to Inuit beneficiaries.
The story of the Gill sisters and their false status was first reported by Nunatsiaq News — a local paper serving Nunavut and the Nunavik territory of Quebec — in March 2023.
The report indicated that Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) — an organization that ensures promises made under the Nunavut Agreement are carried out and verifies claims of Inuit ancestry — was investigating the sisters for “potential” enrollment fraud.
A previous NTI news release stated that Manji claimed Amira and Nadya were adopted from an Inuk mother.
That woman denied any claims to be the girls’ birth mother and initiated a process to have the twins removed from the Inuit enrolment list.
The girls also ran a company called Kanata Trade Co., which sold products that featured Indigenous artwork, claiming funds went to an organization called Indspire. This national Indigenous charity raises funds for Indigenous students.
They were even featured in media stories and interviews where they spoke about their business and about receiving previous assistance from Indspire.
In a September 21 release from NTI, the organization said the charges against the Gill sisters and Manji “underscore the significance of preserving the integrity of Inuit enrolment and reaffirm the commitment to uphold the principles set forth in the Nunavut Agreement, Article 35.”
“Inuit identity is a matter of profound cultural significance, deeply embedded in the tapestry of Inuit culture, history, and way of life,” said Aluki Kotierk, president of NTI. “It transcends mere paperwork or formal documentation and is rooted in shared traditions, languages, and the legacy of ancestors.”
The NTI said that while this case is isolated, it has taken steps to strengthen its enrollment process.
According to RCMP, the women are scheduled to appear in Iqaluit court on October 30, 2023.
This article was originally sourced from www.dailyhive.com