William Bedard is a member of the Haida Nation and was born in the archipelago of Haida Gwaii. Billy lived in the community of Old Masset (Ottiowas) most his life and belongs to the Raven clan.
Billy was raised by his Naanii (Grandmother) and Tsinii (Grandfather). Hereditary Chief William Mathews, Billy's grandfather, instilled in all his grandchildren strong traditional beliefs and fundamental knowledge of the Haida heritage that would bring them successfully through life in a changing world. Billy has fond memories of when his Tsinii would be sitting at his kitchen table with all his grandchildren telling stories of Haida Gwaii. His grandfather’s stories were 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 village. He often talked about how the Haida culture was lost and the importance of reviving the values and traditions of the once thriving Haida Nation.
Billy’s interest in Haida art began when he was a young boy and he became aware of other artists and their work. One of his memories, which inspired his interest in Haida art, was when a young up-and-coming Robert Davidson returned from school to carve and raise a totem pole that included hosting a potlatch. This totem pole raising was the first of its kind in over one hundred years. This motivated Billy to learn the skills to carve his own art in various mediums, including jewelry. Billy has largely taught himself to carve the silver and gold metals using master carvers Robert Davidson and Bill Reid’s art books for guidance. Billy’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 is just beginning to explore the medium of woodcarving and will be seeking assistance from well known Haida artist, Reg Davidson as he works with cedar.