She lied to obtain Inuit status for her twin daughters and is facing sentencing for fraud once more

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Eagle Flying Indigenous News
Noah Noah says he has no positive memories of Karima Manji, the woman who exploited his mother, Kitty Noah, to obtain Inuit identities for her twin daughters, enabling her to access funds designated for Inuit beneficiaries.

“She was really awful,” Noah remarked about Manji during a CBC News interview in 2023 at his Iqaluit home.

Noah, who grew up in Iqaluit, was 11 when he and his siblings first encountered Manji in the 1990s. This was when his father, Harry Hughes, met Manji in Iqaluit and they started dating. Around the same time, Hughes was diagnosed with leukemia. Noah recalls it being a challenging period for him and his six siblings, exacerbated by his perception that Manji disliked them.

“I mean, at one point, I remember her saying that we all belonged in a sewer.”

During Hughes’ relationship with Manji, the family moved to Ontario. The couple never lived together and broke up shortly after the move. Hughes died in 1997, but Manji’s involvement with the Noah family continued.

Earlier this year, Manji admitted to defrauding Inuit organizations of more than $158,000 for her twin daughters’ education by claiming they were born to Kitty Noah, an Inuk, and that Manji was their adoptive mother.

Noah says his mother, who passed away last year, had a difficult life — surviving two bouts of lung cancer and being hit by a car, which he says resulted in a brain injury.

When he informed his mother about Manji’s claims that she was the twins’ birth mother, “she was just as flabbergasted” as he was.

Manji’s deception ended when she pleaded guilty in February, and she’s scheduled to be sentenced in a Nunavut court on June 24.

While that would typically conclude a case like this, many issues remain unresolved regarding Manji, including how the defrauded organizations might seek to recoup their losses. Legal documents obtained by CBC News reveal a contentious divorce and disputes over properties worth millions. An expert who reviewed these documents suggests that Manji still appears to be trying to maintain control of her numerous real-estate assets, even as she faces sentencing for her crimes.

Inuit identity deception

As first reported last year by the Iqaluit outlet Nunatsiaq News, Karima Manji applied for Inuit status in 2016 on behalf of her twin daughters, Nadya and Amira Gill, who were then teenagers.

On the enrollment forms she submitted to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the organization responsible for maintaining the Inuit Enrolment List under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Manji listed Kitty Noah as the girls’ birth mother and claimed to be their adoptive mother.

These applications were approved, granting the twins Inuit status and access to organizations like the Kavikak Association, which offers scholarships and business opportunities designated for Inuit beneficiaries.

However, in reality, Manji was Nadya and Amira’s birth mother, and their father was her husband, Gurmail Gill. The couple also had an older son, Liam.

NTI investigated concerns regarding the girls’ true identities and removed them from the enrollment list in April 2023.

In September 2023, Iqaluit RCMP charged the girls and their mother with two counts each of fraud over $5,000. However, the charges against Nadya and Amira, now 25, were dropped in February when Manji pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000.

This is not the first time Manji has committed fraud.

First Initial Fraudulent Case

In the 1980s, Manji started as a consultant for the March of Dimes Non-Profit Housing Corporation (MODC), which provides housing for individuals with physical disabilities across Ontario.

By 2003, she had assumed a full-time role as a property manager. However, in 2013, Manji was terminated for fraud following an internal investigation that revealed she had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization, as stated in a 2014 claim filed by MODC at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Bank statements presented during the civil case demonstrated that between 2005 and 2013, Manji diverted substantial sums meant for March of Dimes into a personal bank account under the non-profit’s name, which she controlled.

In 2015, criminal charges were brought against Manji for defrauding MODC of $800,000. She pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 and received a conditional sentence of two years less a day, followed by a year of probation.

Subsequent to her conviction, Manji initiated divorce proceedings in 2022. In her divorce filing, she asserted repayment of $650,000 to MODC and surrendered property items, including upscale appliances and furnishings, seized from their residence.

In a July 4, 2022 affidavit associated with the divorce, Manji expressed remorse, stating, “I am deeply sorry for my inexcusably poor judgment.”

Twins

During the pandemic, Amira and Nadya launched Kanata Trade Co., an online business selling masks and clothing adorned with Indigenous artwork. Their social media profiles prominently featured their photos and referenced their affiliation with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

By 2023, their public profile grew, prompting scrutiny over their claimed Inuit identities online.

Additionally, the sisters obtained Indigenous certification from the Canadian Council for Indigenous Business (CCIB) for Kanata Trade Co. They pledged a portion of their profits to Indspire, an organization supporting Indigenous students, citing their own positive experiences with Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures Program.

While Indspire initially praised the twins in a 2021 newsletter and acknowledged Kanata’s $6,000 donation, the organization later requested the return of all funds received from the sisters, as stated in a subsequent announcement.

Following their removal from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s enrollment list in April 2023, the CCIB revoked their business certification.

Critics questioning the Gill sisters’ Inuit heritage were not only concerned about potential cultural misrepresentation but also about how their Inuit status enabled them to access scholarships and grants. Between 2020 and 2023, the sisters received over $158,000 from Kakivak Association for educational expenses, using identification numbers issued with their Inuit beneficiary cards obtained in 2016.

The Crown withdrew charges against the sisters after their mother, Karima Manji, admitted in a statement related to her guilty plea that they were unaware she had fraudulently acquired their NTI cards.

Details from the agreed statement of facts also disclosed Manji’s unsuccessful attempt in 2018 to obtain Inuit status by falsely claiming adoption by Inuit parents, which was rejected by NTI.

Both sisters attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where Amira pursued civil engineering and Nadya, who legally changed her name in September 2023, studied law. Queen’s University declined to comment on the allegations concerning the Gill sisters, citing privacy considerations, but confirmed both had completed two degrees at the institution.

Red Flags

Anita Cardinal, a member of the Woodland Cree First Nations practicing law in Edmonton, completed the Aboriginal property law program at the University of Saskatchewan’s Native Law Centre in 2019.

Among her classmates was Nadya Gill.

Cardinal recalls that during their time in the program, there were numerous concerns raised about Nadya’s ethnic background. Nadya never disclosed details about her supposed Inuit heritage, such as her community affiliation or her Inuit family connections.

When it became public knowledge that the Gill twins did not have Inuit ancestry, Cardinal remarked that there was little surprise among their peers. “It was more like, yeah, we suspected as much.”

However, Cardinal expressed disappointment because the Aboriginal Law Program is designed specifically for Indigenous individuals.

“That spot, we know, could have gone to a genuine Indigenous person.”

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