Members of the Buctouche First Nations are complaining to the Canadian Human Rights Commission claiming they were refused a vote in the band's most recent elections.

Ashley Sanipass and her father say her rights were violated when she was refused a vote in the Feb. 29 election.

"Well, I just went in, the electoral officer kind of went 'Oh God' and she was just like 'you can't vote. I'm going to need you to leave'."

The incident didn't surprise Sanipass. Before the vote, she asked to have her name added to the voting list, but she said it wasn't.

Sanipass said the reason she was denied is because she works off reserve and working on reserve isn't an option.

"No, there's no jobs available," she said.

The Buctouche band office wasn't open Thursday and no one could be reached for comment.

Chief Ann Mary Steele — who just won another term — said in a statement to the CBC on Feb. 22 that she and band members will review the custom code that dictates band elections. She also said amendments are a possibility.

Concerned about rights

Garry Sanipass is glad his daughter is standing up for her rights. He ran in the election, coming in second, but said he isn't concerned about the results. He is concerned about rights.

"This is a communal band, so they are not allowing her to vote which is against her democratic rights," he said.

Sanipass says taking the fight to Ottawa makes the most sense for his family.

"We don't have a lot of money so that was the best recourse that we had after talking to several other people who said that human rights would probably be the best people to go see because they could help solve the problem and we wouldn't have to pay for a lawyer," he said.

The complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission is in the early stages, but Ashley said she isn't giving up.

"I'm in the process of making a complaint, it's a long process, so I'm getting it started now," she said.

Sanipass hopes her efforts will allow her to vote in the next band elections five years from now.