Woman who defrauded Inuit organizations remanded into custody as she awaits sentence

Karima Manji, who pleaded guilty to defrauding Inuit organizations, is taken into custody in Iqaluit Monday after a judge decided to revoke her bail. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

A woman who admitted to defrauding Inuit organizations of more than $158,000 for her twin daughters' education has been remanded into custody in Iqaluit while she awaits her sentence.

Nunavut Justice Mia Manocchio revoked Karima Manji's bail in an Iqaluit courtroom Monday after hearing sentencing submissions from lawyers, saying she saw no point in "delaying the inevitable."

Manji is now in jail as she awaits Thursday, when Manocchio will deliver her sentence.

"The accused is no longer presumed innocent," Manocchio said. "It is clear to me … that a period of incarceration is appropriate."

According to an agreed statement of facts, Manji filled out forms in 2016 to enrol her daughters as Inuit children so they could become beneficiaries of the Nunavut Tunngavik land claim, saying they were born the late Kitty Noah from Iqaluit and that Manji was their adoptive mother.

Manji's sentencing hearing took place in Iqaluit Monday afternoon, with Crown and defence lawyers making submissions.

Crown prosecutor Sarah White asked for a sentence of 18 months to two years less a day and a one-year probation period. White submitted that Manji must also participate in counselling and do 60 hours of community service.

Manji has already paid back $130,000. White submitted that she would also have to pay back the remaining $28,254 to the Kakivak Association.

Scott Cowan, Manji's lawyer, asked for a conditional sentence, which is typically served in the form of house arrest.

'Irreparable harm'

A victim impact statement filed by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and read out in court by NTI lawyer Marie Belleau, said that Indigenous identity is seen "as a benefit, a dollar sign."

"Indigenous identity fraud is modern day assimilation," Belleau said. "It is seen as something that can simply be stolen."

Belleau noted that Manji's case is "the first known enrolment fraud case in Nunavut."

Noah Noah, Kitty's son, also addressed the court.

"Karima, I just want to make sure that I see you. I want to speak on behalf of my mom, Kitty. She was loving mother, caring and considerate," he said.

"This is is contrast to what you are," he added.

Noah said the stress on him and his family "has been terrible."

Cowan said there were several mitigating factors in Manji's case, including the fact that she pleaded guilty and that she paid back a portion of the money.

At some points, members of the Noah family were seen shaking their heads during the defence's submissions.

Manji also addressed the court and apologized for her actions.

"I am deeply sorry for what I've caused," Manji said.

"I'm hoping that by pleading guilty and repaying the funds that I've taken a step to expressing my apology and trying to correct what I've done"

Manji is scheduled to be sentenced in Iqaluit on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.