Ontario twin sisters and their mother were on the court docket in Iqaluit Monday, facing two charges each of fraud over $5,000 in one of the first cases in Canada of criminal charges for faking an Indigenous identity.
Nadya and Amira Gill, 25, and their mother Karima Manji had Ontario lawyers appear remotely on their behalf.
The Ontario family made headlines earlier this year after Nunatsiaq News reported that Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. — the organization in Nunavut that, among other things, checks claims of Inuit ancestry — was investigating potential fraud.
Following its investigation in the spring, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. removed the Gill twins and their mother from the beneficiary list and asked the RCMP to look into the matter.
In September, the RCMP said an investigation determined that the three women had applied for and obtained Inuit beneficiary status as “adopted Inuit children” between October 2016 and September 2022.
“The women used this Inuit beneficiary status to defraud the Kakivak Association and Qikiqtani Inuit Association of funds that are only available to Inuit beneficiaries by obtaining grants and scholarships,” police said at the time.
Indspire, a registered charity that invests in Indigenous education, has asked for the Gill sisters to return all the funds they received through the organization’s Building Brighter Futures program.
Scott Cowan is the lawyer for Manji.
“The case is in its early stages such that I am not in a position to discuss it in any detail,” Cowan told Global News.
All three women are scheduled to appear in court next on Jan. 8 in Iqaluit.
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