Joshua Nichols, PhD (Law), JD, PhD (Philosophy), MA (Sociology), BA Hons (Political Science)

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law


Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law



Joshua Nichols holds a B.A. (Hons.) In political science and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Alberta; a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto; a J.D. from the University of British Columbia; and a Ph.D. in law from the University of Victoria. He is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia.

His research centers on the deeply complicated and (all too often) conflictual constitutional relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. In particular, he is interested in how the notion of Crown sovereignty has become entangled with the Westphalian model of the state (i.e., the state as a politically self-contained and legally autonomous unit for a singular ‘people’ or ‘nation’). This entanglement has effectively set the boundaries of constitutional interpretation in Canadian courts and confined Indigenous peoples to the status of ‘cultural minorities’ with a limited range of Charter-analogous rights. His work addresses this problem by adopting a genealogical approach that relates the jurisprudence to the history of the British Empire, the development of Canada and the relationship with the Crown (in all of its varied manifestations) and Indigenous peoples.

He is currently working on a research project that centers on the development of the Dominions in the British Empire during the mid and late 19th century. He is interested how concepts like sovereignty, federalism and constitutional law were shaped and re-shaped during the close of the so-called Second Empire and how these are carried over into the formation of modern International law from the League of Nation and, finally, to the United Nations.

  • Aboriginal Law
  • Federalism
  • Legal History
  • Philosophy Of Law
  • Socio-legal Studies & Research Methods




  • A Reconciliation without Recollection: An Investigation of the Foundations of Aboriginal Law. University of Toronto Press.


  • The End(s) of Community: History, Sovereignty, and the Question of Law. Wilfred Laurier University Press.



  • “Finding Reconciliation with Available Light: Bill 41 and the Possible Futures of Federalism.” Co-authored with Sara Morales (UBC Law Journal. Forthcoming)
  • “In Search of Honorable Crowns and Legitimate Constitutions: Mikisew Cree First Nation v Canada and the Colonial Constitution.” Co-authored with Robert Hamilton (University of Toronto Law Journal, 70(3) 341-375)


  • “The Tin Ear of the Court: Ktunaxa Nation and the Foundation of the Duty to Consult.” Co-authored with Robert Hamilton (Alberta Law Review, 56(3), 2019)
  • “A Narrowing Field of View: An Investigation into the Relationship between the Principles of Treaty Interpretation and the Conceptual Framework of Canadian Federalism” (Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 56(2), 2019)


  • “Figures of History, Foundations of Law: Acéphale, Angelus Novus, and the Katechon.” (Journal of Historical Sociology. July 2017)


  • “A Reconciliation without Recollection? Chief Mountain and the Sources of Sovereignty.” (UBC Law Review. 48(2) July 2015)
  • “Claims of Sovereignty-Burdens of Occupation: William and the Future of Reconciliation.” (UBC Law Review. 48(1) January 2015)


LAW 450 - Administrative Law

Designed to provide an understanding of the legal constraints courts have placed on the behavior of administrative tribunals and government departments. Topics to be discussed: What is Administrative Law? How the courts supervise the acts and decisions of administrative bodies. Pitfalls to be avoided by administrative officers: errors of fact and law; excesses of discretion; breach of natural justice. How administrative acts and decisions may be attacked by an aggrieved citizen: remedies. Appeal and review, time limits, locus standi, choice of remedy, procedure. How to avoid attacks by aggrieved citizens. The practical outcome; strength of review. Recent trends in Administrative Law in Canada.

Winter Term 2021
LAW 496 - Legal History

An examination of law and legal institutions from a historical perspective designed to explore continuity and change in common, statute, and constitutional law. Every year, the course will consist of a limited number of seminar offerings whose focus will be on the historical development of law, legal processes, and institutions.

Fall Term 2020
LAW 533 - Advanced Problems in Constitutional Law

Entails an examination of various current problems in constitutional law. Topics covered in past years include Criminal Justice and the Charter, Comparative Constitutional Law, and Federal/Provincial Law.

Fall Term 2020
LAW 599 - Seminars on Specialized Legal Topics

These seminars will cover specialized topics of emerging importance in the law at a senior level. The particular topic covered would vary dependent on the availability of Faculty with necessary teaching competence, student interest, and the needs of the legal profession. Sections may be offered in a Cost Recovery format at an increased rate of fee assessment; refer to the Fees Payment Guide in the University Regulations and Information for Students.

Winter Term 2021

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