AFPInuit children playing in Alaska in 2019
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 19:02
Three women in Canada have been charged with fraud involving Inuit subsidies. These are two twin sisters and their 59-year-old mother. The two adopted sisters claimed to be Inuit children. The sisters and their adoptive mother are said to have committed fraud between October 2016 and September 2022.
The three have been charged with several counts of fraud. A statement from Canadian police said the sisters and their mother defrauded two local organizations and received grants and scholarships.
Members of Canada’s Inuit community are entitled to those subsidies, as determined in a 1993 settlement. The Nunavut Agreement gave the Inuit a separate habitat called Nunavut, in northern Canada.
Who are the Inuit?
The indigenous peoples known as Inuit live in parts of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. They are different groups with a similar culture. The word inuit is the plural of inuk, which means ‘human’ or ‘real human’, in the Inuit language.
Inuit used to be called ‘Eskimos’, a name that has fallen out of favor because the name was given to the people by others. Inuit experience the term as condescending and derogatory.
The Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI), an organization that monitors the registration of people’s indigenous status, discovered the fraud committed by the three women. The organization calls the case the “first of its kind”. The woman identified by the twin sisters as their biological mother said before her death in July that she was not related to the twins.
The fraud has sparked outrage in Canada. NTI President Aluki Kotierk called the alleged fraud “another form of colonization” and part of a broader trend among non-Indigenous Canadians claiming Indigenous heritage. “You wanted to take our language from us, you wanted to take our culture from us. Now you’re trying to claim our identity? It’s just mind-boggling.”
In addition to the money they received from the two local organizations, the Indigenous twins were also able to receive grants from a Canadian Indigenous charity, an electricity company and the Royal Bank of Canada. They allegedly wrongly received a total of about 5,000 Canadian dollars (about 3,500 euros).
Speaking to Canadian television, NTI President Kotierk said that if the sisters and the adoptive mother are found guilty, they will “at least” have to repay all the money they received from the Inuit associations. The trial against the women is scheduled for October 30.