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She lied to get her twin daughters Inuit status and is about to be sentenced for fraud. Again.

Karima Manji is about to be sentenced for defrauding Inuit organizations by falsely claiming Inuit status for her twin daughters. But this isn’t her first fraud conviction, and legal documents obtained by CBC News reveal she’s also embroiled in a contentious divorce involving several Toronto rental properties worth millions.

Twice-convicted fraudster Karima Manji's legal documents reveal contentious divorce, property disputes

A woman with short dark hair appears unsmiling in a mugshot.

Noah Noah says he has no positive memories of Karima Manji, the woman who used his mother, Kitty Noah, to obtain Inuit identities for her twin daughters so she could gain access to funds only available to Inuit beneficiaries.

"She was really awful," Noah said of Manji during a CBC News interview in 2023 at his Iqaluit home.

Noah grew up in Iqaluit and was 11 when he and his siblings first encountered Manji in the 1990s. That's when his father, Harry Hughes, met Manji in Iqaluit and the two began dating. At around the same time, Hughes was diagnosed with leukemia. Noah says it was a difficult period for him and his six siblings, made worse by his feeling that Manji didn't really like them.

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

During his father's relationship with Manji, they all moved to Ontario. The couple never lived together and broke up shortly after the move. Hughes died in 1997, but his relationship with Manji was only the beginning of her involvement in the lives of the Noah family.

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

Noah says his mother, who died last year, didn't have an easy life — she survived two bouts of lung cancer as well as being hit by a car, which he says left her with a brain injury.

When he told 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 set to be sentenced in a Nunavut court on June 24.

While that would normally be the end of a case like this, much remains unresolved when it comes to Manji, including how the organizations she defrauded might try to recoup their losses. Legal documents obtained by CBC News that reveal a contentious divorce and disputes about properties worth millions have been reviewed by an expert, who suggests Manji still seems to be trying to maintain control of her numerous real-estate assets, even as she faces sentencing for her crimes.

Inuit identity fraud

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

On the enrolment forms she submitted to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the organization that maintains the Inuit Enrolment List under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Manji identified Kitty Noah as the girls' birth mother and stated that she was their adoptive mother.

Those applications were approved, granting the twins Inuit status and giving them access to organizations like Kavikak Association, which offers scholarships and business opportunities meant for Inuit.

WATCH | Mother in Inuit identity fraud case pleads guilty:

Mother in Inuit identity fraud case pleads guilty

4 months ago

Duration 2:03

An Ontario woman has pleaded guilty to fraud after falsely claiming Inuit status for her twin daughters, who later received big scholarships reserved for Indigenous students.

But in actuality, 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 that the girls weren't who they claimed to be and removed them from the enrolment list in April 2023.

In September 2023, Iqaluit RCMP charged the girls and their mother with two counts each of fraud over $5,000. But the charges against Nadya and Amira, who are 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.

The first fraud

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

In 2003, she took on a full-time role there as a property manager. She was terminated for fraud in 2013 after an internal investigation found she had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the non-profit, according to a 2014 statement of claim filed by MODC in at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Bank statements submitted as evidence by MODC in their civil case show that from 2005 to 2013, Manji funneled thousands of dollars intended for March of Dimes into a bank account she created and controlled under the name of the non-profit.

In 2015, Manji was criminally charged 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 one year probation order.

Following the legal turmoil of her conviction, Manji filed for divorce in 2022. In her divorce application, she claimed she'd paid back $650,000 to MODC in addition to the property, such as high-end appliances and furnishings, that were seized from their home.

In an affidavit related to the divorce proceedings filed on July 4, 2022, Manji appeared apologetic, writing, "I am deeply sorry for my inexcusably poor judgment."

The divorce

Court filings related to the divorce show Manji and Gill were married for 26 years before separating in 2021.

In an application for spousal support dated July 4, 2022, Manji said she wasn't able to get a job, and could only work as a handy woman, but that due to knee issues, the physical aspects of that work were difficult. She claimed that she made less than $49,000 a year.

Iqaluit civil court lawyer Anne Crawford, who's practised in Nunavut for 35 years, reviewed the legal documents for CBC News and says this shows Manji claims to have no way of making an income.

"She can't get a job and she can't do any work, so there's nothing she can do," she said.

Court documents dated July 21, 2022, show Gill was ordered to pay Manji $10,630 a month in temporary spousal support.

But for a woman who claimed to be making so little money, Crawford noted that Manji "has a lot of assets."

The properties

Those assets included three rental properties in the Greater Toronto Area — a two-unit home at 102 Beresford Avenue, a condo unit at 250 Scarlett Road and a five-bedroom house at 327 Kipling Avenue being rented out to five students.

According to Manji's financial statements, the properties were valued at a total of around $3 million and none had any mortgages.

Despite this, in her application for spousal support, she played down their appeal.

"These rental properties are not high end," she wrote, noting that they were in "modest neighbourhoods" and that one needed significant repairs.

IN PHOTOS | The 3 Toronto rental properties Manji owns:

Based on the net rental income she claimed to be making from each property in 2021, they would have earned around $30,000 that year.

In his amended response, Gill suggested the properties would have earned a gross annual income of $109,000 and disputed the much smaller net income Manji claimed they brought in.

He also disputed Manji's claim that they had agreed the properties would be held in trust for the children, saying no such trust agreement existed.

He said that throughout their relationship, and increasingly after her guilty plea, Manji pleaded with him to transfer family assets into their children's names, something he said he "steadfastly refused" to do.

Gill is now asking for an equal share of their estate, which includes the three rental properties. The divorce trial is set to take place in 2025.

To Crawford, a transfer of significant assets to children or to a spouse puts Manji in a better position to plead poverty. She says having assets in trust or with relatives would mean they wouldn't belong to Manji and therefore wouldn't be questioned.

"She seems to be anxious to have assets within her circle," said Crawford. "Still within her control, but not in her name."

In financial statements filed by Manji, she said Amira gave her $80,000 in 2017 for a deposit on one of their houses. She also said Nadya gave her $50,000 in 2019 as a deposit on their condo.

In his response, Gill said "it is impossible" that the girls would've been able to accumulate these funds as they were students at the time.

Crawford says if she were the lawyer for NTI, she would take a look at the properties Manji owns.

"I would chase down these houses and say, you can't profit from the money that your children here have given you because there's only one source of that money."

For that reason, Crawford says the Inuit organizations Manji pleaded guilty to defrauding could try to get back the funds she took by going after profits from those properties.

The twins

During the pandemic, Amira and Nadya started Kanata Trade Co., an online mask and clothing business featuring Indigenous artwork. Their social media accounts featured their photos and noted that they were associated with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

By 2023, their media profile began to rise, and some people began to question their Inuit identities online.

The sisters also got their Indigenous certification from the Canadian Council for Indigenous Business (CCIB), for their Kanata Trade Co. venture.

They promised profits from Kanata would go to Indspire, an organization providing funding to Indigenous students, because they themselves had benefited from Indspire's Building Brighter Futures Program.

Though Indspire wrote about the twins in glowing terms in its spring 2021 newsletter and noted that Kanata had donated over $6,000, it said in a statement two years later that it had requested the return of all the funds the twins had received.

After NTI removed the twins from its enrolment list in April 2023, the CCIB revoked their certification.

But the people who were prodding the Gill sisters to explain their Inuit ties weren't just worried that they were pretending to be Indigenous to gain cred for their business.

When the girls became Inuit beneficiaries in 2016, they were issued enrolment cards with identification numbers that were then used to apply for scholarships and bursaries, which the girls received. The Gill sisters then received more than $158,00 from Kakivak Association between 2020 and 2023, for education-related expenses.

A spokesperson for the Crown told CBC News that because Manji admitted in an agreed statement of facts related to her guilty plea that her daughters weren't aware she had fraudulently obtained their NTI cards, the Crown withdrew the charges against the girls.

That agreed statement of facts also revealed that Manji had attempted to gain Inuit status herself in 2018 by claiming in an NTI application that she was adopted by Inuit parents. NTI rejected that application.

Both sisters attended Queen's University, in Kingston, Ont., where Amira studied civil engineering and Nadya, who legally changed her name in September 2023, studied law.

Queen's University declined to comment on allegations about the Gill sisters, citing privacy concerns, but it did confirm that both sisters each received two degrees there.

CBC News has requested numerous interviews with the Gill sisters but has not received a response.

The 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.

One of her classmates was Nadya Gill.

She says there were a lot of red flags raised about Nadya's ethnicity because she never shared information about her Inuit descent, such as which community she was associated with or who her Inuit family was.

When it was revealed that the Gill twins were not of Inuit descent, Cardinal said nobody was shocked. "It was like, yeah, we knew."

Still, Cardinal says it was upsetting because the Aboriginal Law Program is supposed to be for Indigenous people.

"That spot, we know, could have went to an actual Indigenous person."

'Justice for mom'

Noah Noah says he wants to see Manji pay back the scholarship money Kakivak gave to her daughters.

"Certainly recoup the funds that this family has gotten … [that were] earmarked for Inuit children."

Although Noah says he wishes the charges against the sisters hadn't been dropped, he's happy Manji pleaded guilty.

"It was very emotional. That was justice for mom."

Noah says his mother also would've been pleased by the outcome. "She would have been celebrating for sure."

NTI says it has since made changes to its enrolment system and the group's president has said she hopes it sparks more discussion about the issue of Indigenous identity fraud across Canada.

Noah agrees.

"Posing as an Indigenous person should be a crime in this country."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juanita Taylor is Senior Reporter for The National in the North. Juanita joined CBC North in 2008 and comes from Arviat in Nunavut.

    With files from Kate Kyle and Aloysius Wong

    *****
    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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