Karima Manji, 59, and her two daughters Amira and Nadya Gill, both 25 years old, of Ontario, have each been charged with two counts of fraud.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement that the mother and daughters defrauded two local indigenous organizations of "funds that are only available to Inuit beneficiaries by obtaining grants and scholarships," which occurred between October 2016 and September 2022.
An organization called Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, or NTI, which oversees indigenous status said they became "aware of possible fraudulent enrolment" of the Gill sisters after Manji told the organization that they were adoptive sisters and their birth mother was Inuk.
NTI launched an internal investigation and reached out to the woman listed as Gill's birth mother, Kitty Noah, who told them that she was not related to the twins. Upon receiving the information, Manji and the Gills were removed as beneficiaries from the NTI list and the organization said this case was a "first of its kind," according to the outlet.
Under Canadian law, if someone has Inuit heritage they are allowed to receive benefits like scholarships and grants. Amira and Nadya Gill both graduated from Queen's University in Ontario and launched a business selling beauty masks which was advertised as "Indigenous-owned."
NTI President Aluki Kotierk told CBC that the Gill sisters and their mother should "at a minimum" return the money they received from Inuit associations.
The twins were able to get scholarships from several Canadian organizations after claiming indigenous status, including Indspire, a Canadian indigenous charity; Hydro One, an electricity provider; and Royal Bank of Canada, the outlet reports.
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