Two former Queen’s students face fraud charges for allegedly fabricating claims of Inuit heritage.
Twin sisters, Amira Gill, Sci ’19 and MASc ’21, and Nadya Gill, LLM ’22, were each charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail. Charges were pressed by the Iqaluit RCMP on Sept. 14 under section 380 of the Criminal Code.
The sisters’ adoptive mother, Karima Manji, filed for Inuit beneficiary status through Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) on behalf of her daughters in 2016. She claimed the girls’ birth mother was an Inuk woman named Kitty Noah—a claim the Noah family denies.
All charges of fraud against the sisters and their adoptive mother remain untested in a court of law. The Gill sisters are scheduled to appear in Iqaluit court on Oct. 30.
NTI is responsible for enrolling individuals in the Nunavut Agreement, which provides Inuit individuals access to scholarships and grants. The sisters allegedly used their fraudulent Inuit status to access financial aid reserved for Indigenous students.
The Noah family contacted NTI explaining they weren’t related to the Gill twins. NTI’s investigation, which led to the recent fraud charges, is the first investigation of its kind in the organization’s history. The sisters were removed from the enrolment list in April.
This isn’t the first time Karima Manji has been charged with fraud. In 2015, she was found guilty of defrauding March of Dimes, the charity she was employed by, and ordered to pay back $250,000, according to APTN news.
Though the fraud charge is for over $5,000, the RCMP hasn’t disclosed how much the sisters received as a product of their beneficiary status. Currently, the NTI offers $2,500 for full-time post-secondary students per academic year, according to their website.
In 2017, Amira Gill won a $4,000 scholarship from HydroOne, an award granted annually to Indigenous students. The announcement described her as Inuk. In 2018, Amira won another $4,000, awarded annually from RBC as part of the Aboriginal Student Award program.
In 2020 and 2021, Amira and Nadya Gill received bursaries of undisclosed amounts from Indspire, a charity supporting Indigenous education, intended for Indigenous students looking to attend post-secondary schools. Indspire refused to reveal the amount of money in bursaries given to the sisters when requested by news organizations.
In July, Indspire released a statement requesting all funds received by Amira and Nadya Gill be returned.
The sisters may face additional academic consequences in accordance with Queen’s Academic Integrity Policy.
“While not directly related to the charges, Queen’s is looking into the entrance applications received by these individuals and the subsequent granting of their degrees,” Queen’s University said in a statement to The Journal.
During Amira Gill’s time at Queen’s, The Journal confirmed she worked as a Residence Don.
The Journal e-mailed and privately messaged the Gill sisters for a statement, but they didn’t respond to The Journal’s requests.
“Where a claim to Indigenous identity is revoked after a student has graduated or been admitted to Queen’s University, our response to the situation would depend on the circumstances that led to the revocation,” Queen’s said.
According to a statement Amira Gill provided Nunatsiaq News in March, the sisters had no knowledge of the enrolment process and were given their Inuit enrolment cards at a young age.
Approved in 2021, the Queen’s Indigenous Students Verification Policy requires Inuit students to provide a Nunavut Trust Certificate, Inuit enrolment card, or other documentation to verify their Indigenous identity.
Applicants are permitted to submit a self-declaration statement in lieu of any documents. Self-declaration requires a statement regarding students’ relationship to a legally recognized Indigenous community, Nation, or people.
The University may impose sanctions on students as part of the Academic Integrity Policy if a student is found to be in violation of these policies.
“Queen’s University is committed to ensuring that resources, access, and services that are dedicated to Indigenous students are distributed to students with verified Indigenous citizenship,” Queen’s said.
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