William Bedard

Bill was born and raised on the picturesque Queen Charlotte Islands, commonly known as Haida Gwaii. Bill belongs to the Haida Nation, born and raised in Old Massett. His clan is the Raven. The Raven is spiritually known as the trickster. Bill naturally takes on the characteristics of the fun-loving Raven in his dealings with all people. They quickly become his friends.

One of the Haida legends of the Raven tells how the Raven created light in the world. In the beginning, when all was in darkness; the Raven was lonely and was glad to see another being to spend time with. Through trickery, the Raven stole the sun, moon and stars form a Chief so kept them hidden in three wooden boxes. He taunted and provoked the Chief who was still trying to get back the three boxes that Raven had stolen from him. Raven did this only because he loved getting the Chief riled up. To keep the Chief interested in interacting with him, Raven flew up and flung the sun, moon and stars into the sky where they have remained ever since, bringing light into the world.

Bill was raised by his Naanii and Tsinii (grandparents) in the village of Old Massett (Ottiowas), located on the north end of Haida Gwaii. Hereditary chief William Matthews and his wife Emma were prominent and respected leaders in their community. Chief Matthews instilled in all his grandchildren strong traditional beliefs and fundamental knowledge of the Haida heritage that would bring them success throughout life, in this changing world. Bill has fond memories of when his Tsinii would sit around with all his grandchildren and tell stories of Old Haida. His grandfather’s stories talked about how the world came to be; the long houses, families and their history, hunting and fishing trips, and the totem poles that once lined the waterfront of the village. He often talked about how the Haida culture was lost and the importance of once again becoming a thriving nation.

Bill’s interest of the Haida art began when he was a young boy growing up in Haida watching other up and coming artists. One of his memories which inspired his interest in pursuing Haida art was when Robert Davidson returned from school and hosted a potlatch in Old Massett, raising the first totem pole in over one hundred years. This motivated Bill to begin his quest to learn the skills required to carve jewelry and produce other works of art. Bill has largely taught himself to carve silver and gold metals, using Robert Davidson and Bill Reid’s art books for guidance. Bill’s artwork reflects tradition and innovation that belongs to the past, yet emulates the present perspective of Haida art. He develops his art through experimentation and learning from others. He experiments both with technique and with cultural participation. He is just beginning to explore the medium of wood carving. He will be seeking assistance from well known Haida artist Reggie Davidson for guidance as he works with cedar.