Rolf Bouman, the founder and president of the Nova Scotian land development companies Canadian Pioneer Estates Ltd. and Canec Land Developments Inc. has worked for more than 3 decades on reconciliation. It is his strong believe that the Indigenous people of the North American continent have very important stories and messages to tell. These stories are often thousands of years old and it is his hope that they can be preserved for future generations. It is Mr. Bouman’s view that the world can learn much from Indigenous peoples. They have been living longer on the North American continent than anybody else.

Friends United International Convention Center – A Virtual Walk Through (2 min.)

The Friends United International Convention Center

This is why his corporate group did construct the Friends United International Convention Center in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. This facility is a platform where Indigenous artists can display their artworks to an international audience. Frequently also children and younger people are observing the artists at work. Many of the Indigenous artists are working on-site and are happy to explain to visitors the messages and traditions they convey. Since non of the artists ever compete, but rather work together and teach each other Mr. Bouman called this initiative Friends United. The corporate Bouman group supplies housing for residencies and art supplies for the artists right next to the Friends United International Convention Center. There are also several workshops on-site.

Totem Poles by Gerry Sheena

One of the latest accomplishments are four totem poles which were carved by Salish Westcoast carver Gerry Sheena on-site. He moved from British Columbia to the site for two years for this project. Also, two almost 500-year-old red cedar logs were trucked from the Westcoast to Cape Breton. These logs were actually saved as they were scheduled to be cut up at a sawmill as wooden shingles and boards.

Experience Indigenous culture at the Friends United Center

The following video is a short walk-through through the Friends United International Convention Center and showcases some highlights of the facility. For anybody who would like to experience Indigenous culture in Canada, this facility is a significant place to visit. On over 24,000 sqft. and two levels one can find paintings, carvings, sculptures, quill baskets, and contemporary art. One of the contemporary artists featured is Eric Schweig who paused his Hollywood acting career for this project.

Indiginous Artists and Artwork from all across Canada

Artwork from all across Canada can be found by such artists as Loretta Gould, the late Gordon Fiddler, Jasyn Lucas, and the late Jay Bell Redbird. Since over the past decades seven Indigenous artists passed away whose artworks are being displayed the Friends United Center is also a testimony to their legacies and lives. The Friends United Initiative is being funded solely by the Bouman group of companies and has never asked for or received any government funding. Friends United also has no affiliation with any political parties, but many present and past government leaders have visited the facility to facilitate reconciliation. There is no charge for the visit or use of the facility as Rolf Bouman believes that Indigenous culture should be accessible to anybody.