The Pretenders

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A Canadian court sentenced a woman to three years in jail this week for fraudulently claiming her daughters were Inuit to access more than $100,000 in benefits, marking the first custodial sentence for such an offense in Canada, the Guardian reported.

Karima Manji pled guilty to the charges of fraud in February after her daughters, Amira and Nadya, received more than $115,000 in benefits between 2020 and 2023 from organizations in Canada’s Nunavut territory using falsely obtained Inuit identity cards.

The fraudulent enrollment was based on Manji’s claim of adopting the girls from an Inuit woman named Kitty Noah, despite their lack of any real connection to the Inuit community or Nunavut lands.

In September 2023, authorities charged Manji and her daughters with fraud but dropped the charges against the twins earlier this year after the mother pled guilty.

Manji has returned around $95,000 of the funds, but still owes more than $20,000 to another organization supporting the Inuit community.

The case underscored the issue of “Pretendians” in Canada, where there have been instances of false Indigenous identity claims, although cases involving Inuit identity are rarer. Manji had previously been convicted of fraud in a different context but had not served jail time, which influenced the current sentencing.

Nunavut justice Mia Manocchio, who oversaw the case, said the sentencing will “serve as a signal” to others who pretend to be Indigenous for financial gain, according to Radio Canada International.

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