Elegant handwriting on paper.

Northern Lights

"Northern Lights"

There’s a sliver

of northern lights

quietly and softly 

dancing like those almost

invisible solemnly veils

worn at funerals by grieving women

I am stopped beside the river

listening to Neil Diamond’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s


Here in the darkness

I am haunted by memories

of them

my mom and dad’s families

my brothers

and my friends

behind that thin veil

are their almost 

imperceptible stories

the song ends

my window has been open for some fresh air

and I am cold

I hear soft sounds in the sky

behind that silver veil

of northern lights.…

Personal note on poem: I often stop when I am driving on some back road in the middle of the night to look at the stars! On many of those occasions I think of those who have travelled to the next realm of life. Often I am lead to my dreams by the song or songs playing on my truck stereo. I am not alone and I know we all do this. Enjoy the drive....

A headshot photo of Frederick R McDonald; older indigenous man smiling and wearing a camera around his neck.

About Fred

Frederick R McDonald is an international, award-winning artist - a painter, poet and photographer - and a member of the Fort McKay First Nation. Fred was born in Fort McMurray and raised in the bush along the Athabasca River, brought up in the traditional hunting and trapping lifestyle of his parents.

Although he has travelled far and wide, Fred’s heart is still with his community and he continues to be an active member of the Fort McKay band. He keeps himself grounded through his family; his children and his grandchildren are his inspiration for everything he does and they are ultimately his greatest creation.

In addition to his mastery of painting, Fred is an accomplished intellectual, with multiple degrees and awards to his name.

  • Bachelor's of Fine Art, University of Calgary
  • The Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund, 2001 Edmonton, Alberta
  • Regional Aboriginal Recognition Award, Wood Buffalo
  • Global Public Voices Fellow, Cornell University
  • Masters of Fine Art, University of Calgary