In the first case of its kind in the organization’s history, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., says it is investigating allegations of “potential” enrolment fraud after two women used NTI cards to qualify for scholarships intended for Indigenous postsecondary students. (File photo) Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. is investigating what it describes as “potential” enrolment fraud in connection to two sisters who claimed Inuk heritage.

NTI is the organization responsible for ensuring promises made to Inuit under the Nunavut Agreement are carried out.

According to a news release sent by NTI on Thursday evening, a woman named Karima Manji claimed her twin daughters, Amira and Nadya Gill, were adopted from an Inuk mother.

However, according to the news release, NTI has received information from the woman identified as their birth mother that the Gill sisters are not her children.

“Today, she initiated the process to have Amira and Nadya removed from the Inuit enrolment list,” NTI’s news release said.

“The Iqaluit Community Enrolment Committee will review the removal application and make a decision.”

NTI said this type of investigation has never happened previously in the organization’s history.

“This case is the first of its kind under the NTI enrolment program,” the release said.

“To prevent any potential fraud in the future, NTI is working with the Community Enrolment Committees to take additional measures to further strengthen the enrolment application and review process.”

Over the past week, posts began circulating on social media alleging the Gill sisters were falsely claiming Inuit identity.

Posts on Instagram came from a range of Inuit social media users, including singer Tanya Tagaq.

Nunatsiaq News contacted Amira Gill earlier on Thursday about the controversy on social media, which included allegations she and her sister had used their claim of Inuk heritage to get financial support for their university studies and to start a business about two years ago.

The business, called Kanata Trade Co., sold among other things COVID-19 face masks featuring Indigenous art, with proceeds going to support Indspire, a national charity that provides financial support to Indigenous youth.

Gill told Nunatsiaq News in an emailed statement that her and her sister’s “Inuit family ties” are through an Iqaluit family that their mother lived with.

They have a “strained” relationship with their parents, said Gill, who added they now consider Kingston, Ont., their home after having moved from Iqaluit.

“Both my sister and I have been an integral part of the community in Kingston. We have participated in advocacy, cultural ceremonies, and education,” Gill wrote.

“We started Kanata Trade Co. to help Indspire charity’s mission. This was only supposed to be a project, but after two months of doing this work, we sent Indspire the funds we had collected, and we were asked by Indspire to continue and so we have,” Gill added.

Indspire spokesperson Brandon Meawasige confirmed the Gill sisters were eligible for funding under its bursaries and scholarships program because they provided proof of membership in a recognized organization — NTI.

“… And so they qualified for funding under our funding policy,” Meawasige said in a written statement when Nunatsiaq News asked about the social media posts.

He referred other questions to NTI.

Gill said the NTI enrolment cards she and her sister have were given to them “at a young age” and they have “no knowledge of the enrolment process.”

Gill said she felt the controversy about the sisters’ background was an invasion of her privacy, though she understood “the public interest in this matter.”

She said Nunatsiaq News has not revealed the identity of the people making the allegations on social media, nor assessed their credibility. She made that comment earlier in the day, before NTI issued its news release.

Nunatsiaq News tried unsuccessfully to contact Gill after NTI issued its statement. The paper has not been able to contact her sister, Nadya, at all.

By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 31, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunatsiaq News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
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