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Oliver Bell was born and raised in Old Massett on Haida Gwaii. He was taught to respect life and to carry on his family's tradition of fishing by his uncle. He has always appreciated Haida carvings and would watch carvers as they worked with wood and argillite, and often visited Jim Hart at his home (Shark House) in Old Massett to watch him carve. When Jim gave him an opportunity to carve, he was willing to learn. He first collaborated with Jim on the Yan pole in 1988. In 2000, he learned to make carving tools and began to help Jim with "The Respect to Bill Reid Pole." He worked on the pole from the start until it was raised on October 1, 2000.