Mike MacDonald (1941-2006) was an award-winning Mi’kmaw media artist, who is known for his multi-channel video installations, Butterfly Gardens, and online projects.


Mike MacDonald’s art practice emerged from an extended engagement in documentary video making for anti-nuclear activism in the late 1970s. From the late 1980s into the early 1990s he recorded testimony and created visual documents for the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en nations during their land claim challenges. During this work came the origins of his garden artworks.

While shooting videos near Kitwanga, BC, in an area threatened by clear-cut logging, MacDonald’s encounters with butterflies inspired him to talk with Elders in the region. By his accounts, it was then when he gained understanding of the butterfly’s connection to medicine plants and healing. MacDonald began planting medicine and butterfly gardens across Canada, learning the flora and fauna of various regions across the country. His gardens were created as places to contemplate the relations between all living things and questioning how resource extraction threatens Indigenous communities, land, and wildlife.



Powerful Glow

Curated by Lisa Myers

Featuring work by Jordan Bennett, Patricia Deadman, Ursula Johnson, Mike MacDonald, Peter Morin, Luke Parnell, Archer Pechawis, Anne Riley, Fallon Simard, Becca Taylor, Art Wilson and T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss.

Robert MacLaughlin Gallery (touring)
November 26th, 2022 – April 9th, 2023

Collective Remembering

MacDonald’s Medicine and Butterfly Gardens

Lecture by Lisa Myers presented by McMaster University Hooker Distinguished Visiting Scholar Lecture. The lecture is an exercise of collectively remembering Mike MacDonald’s Medicine and Butterfly Gardens. October 21, 2021.

MacDonald’s Gardens

Contemplate Mike MacDonald’s garden artworks and the people and institutions that take care of their growth and memory.  Learn from Mike’s knowledge on pollinators and native plants, and the work that Finding Flowers has been doing in revitalizing and thinking with these perennial projects. 

Mike MacDonald’s Website

Access an archived version of MacDonald’s website and his Online Butterfly Garden created during a residency at the St. Norbert Arts Centre. Learn about his interest in exploring digital space along his research on native pollinators and plants. 

Finding Flowers is supported by the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University,
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council,
and the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund [NFRFE - 2018 - 00485]