A human rights hearing is underway in Saskatoon to find out if former member of Parliament Jim Pankiw promoted racism. 

When Pankiw was the Reform party MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt, he sent out pamphlets referring to what he called special "race-based privileges" for aboriginal people.

The pamphlets, which also included such slogans as "Stop Indian crime," were mailed between December 2002 and June 2004.

Nine people laid complaints and are seeking compensation.

One of them was Richard Ross, an aboriginal man who says the documents constituted harassment and could have promoted fear-mongering.

"It could start racism and fights and people could be scared for their lives, like it was before," he said.

Helen Cote Quewezance, another Saskatoon resident at the hearing, first saw the pamphlets when one of her children brought one home.

"They said, 'Mom, look at this.' And we looked at them and they said … 'We're going to become targets at school,'" she said. "They were embarrassed and scared."

The complainants are seeking compensation as well as a finding that Pankiw's words were discriminatory and harassing toward members of the aboriginal community.

Pankiw was not at the hearing Monday, but is expected to appear later in the week.