Friends United Advisory Board
Hon. Rodney MacDonald worked as a teacher in the First Nation community of Potlotek (Chapel Island) before entering politics and serving as Premier of Nova Scotia from 2006-2009. As Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs he initiated yearly meetings between his Cabinet and Nova Scotia’s provincial chiefs. Mr. MacDonald, presently the CEO of the Gaelic College, is also well known for his musical talents and for his efforts to preserve the Gaelic language and culture. He is also a very important proponent of the “Friends United” initiative as he was able to witness first hand how much of a positive impact the initiative has had and continues to have on the life of many First Nations peoples.
Rolf Bouman, founder of the “Friends United” initiative, left his native Germany in 1986 and made Cape Breton his new home. A passionate advocate and supporter of First Nation’s culture and art, Rolf funds all activities through his Canadian Corporate Group. With over 25 years of international business experience, Rolf’s goal is to help First Nations artists become self-sufficient entrepreneurs who are embraced as cultural ambassadors for their communities and country.
The Friends United Advisory Board, in consultation with its artists, oversees and discusses all significant aspects of the “Friends United” initiative. All board members bring their passion for First Nations art and culture to the table and serve in an advisory capacity without remuneration.
Stephen Augustine is a Hereditary Chief and Keptin of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and the Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College at Cape Breton University. He has been working for a long time with the Friends United Initiative as a friend and consultant and joined the Friends United advisory board as director in 2020. Mr. Augustine was the Curator of Ethnology for Eastern Maritimes in the Ethnology Services Division of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau/Ottawa. He holds a Masters in Canadian Studies from Carleton University and a BA in Anthropology and Political Science from St. Thomas University. Mr. Augustine has shared his expertise in research and traditional knowledge with many organizations, including government departments, the Assembly of First nations, and various Aboriginal communities across Canada. He has been Elder Advisor to the Federal Court of Canada Judges, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Canada. In his role as Hereditary Chief of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and by Elders’ training since an early age, he has a thorough command of traditional practices, his language and the history of his people as well as many other North American indigenous peoples. As Mr. Augustine’s family lived in Europe for 6 years he spent much of his childhood and teenage years in Unna, Germany which allowed him early on to gain valuable insight into international relations. In view of this he is also working on various Mi’kmaq / European projects with the Friends United Initiative and he has been paramount in reviving the 500-year-old friendship between the Mi’kmaq and Basque people.