Please post a screen shot...
Control-I is the same as the tab character. Some software uses "^" as a shorthand for control.
Perhaps your text was cut-and-pasted from a program that converted tabs to literal ^I strings as part of display.
If so, then they are vestiges of tabs and you can safely remove them, or perhaps change them back to tabs if that makes more sense for your content.
On the other hand, perhaps it's something else.
You're right. The text was pasted in from Word.