'Yeah, you can boo': Perry Trimper addresses protesters in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Protesters gathered in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Friday to show their displeasure with the provincial government.

Protesters gathered Friday afternoon in front of the Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs building

Johannes Lampe, president of Nunatsiavut, received support from the crowd of protesters. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Protesters gathered in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Friday to show their displeasure with the provincial government.

"We are here to tell Minister Trimper and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador that we have had enough," said Johannes Lampe, president of Nunatsiavut. 

"We will not stand by and allow our way of life, our culture and our future to be taken away from us."

The protesters were angry at Perry Trimper, minister of environment, for his stand against clear cutting to control methylmercury levels in Lake Melville. 

Trimper has said that if people living in the area are told not to eat fish, seabirds and seal because of high mercury levels, they will be compensated.

"Perry, I want to say to you, I have never in my entire life felt so misrepresented by a so-called representative of our territory," said activist Roberta Benefiel.

"I feel betrayed and I know people here do too, and I want you to know that's from my heart."

"That upsets me very much," Trimper said in response.

Make Muskrat Right requests

The crowd yelled out "shame" when Lampe said that "Minister Trimper did not agree to any of the four solutions put forward by the Nunatsiavut government to Make Muskrat right." 

"Let me make one thing perfectly clear," Lampe said. "Flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir shall not be permitted until full clearing has been carried out; it's as simple as that."

In April, Nalcor Energy downplayed the findings of a Harvard study about the mercury risk to fish and wildlife after the reservoir is flooded.

"He certainly didn't take into account the concerns of our people, the health of our people and our way of life," Lampe said to applause.

While Lampe was supported with applause, Trimper was faced with boos.

"Yeah, you can boo," Trimper said when addressing the crowd. 

In defending his announcement, Trimper said he was only doing what the Nunatsiavut government asked him to do.

He referenced the second of four requests in the Make Muskrat Right petition, to create an impact management agreement.

"I only responded to the ask of the Nunatsiavut government [which] was to set up a compensation agreement strategy, that's what I did."

Protesting compensation

"I do not believe in the compensation at all," said protestor Kim Campbell-McLean.

"We will not be compensated. You cannot compensate culture and tradition and healthy lifestyle [and the] subsistence of living off the land. There's no way that that could ever possibly be compensated."

Minister Trimper addressed the compensation issue in his speech to the crowd.

"I agree with you, how do you compensate for a traditional way of life?" he said. "You don't. Of course you don't. But I was asked by the Nunatsiavut government to set that up, and that's what I did." 

"Did anybody here ask for compensation?" a crowd member asked. "No!" they shouted in response.

"To compensate people after the fact that they're going to be sick is just outrageous to me," said Christa Colbourne, another protester.

"And now they're just going to say 'Go ahead and eat the fish and live this way until we determine that you're sick and then we're going to compensate you?' It just is not feasible and we don't want to accept this."

Campbell-McLean believes the protest was a success and that Trimper got their message. She said she would attend future protests as well.

"[It's] totally important to me, but not only for me but for the generations and the people who will come after me," she said.

"I consider this to be what we would call cultural genocide, because our culture will die because of this."

Check out video of the protest below.

With files from Jacob Barker