Cover: Canada and Colonialism: An Unfinished History, by Jim Reynolds. Photo: A bronze statue of a lion in profile. Only its head is visible, and its mouth is open, showing its teeth.
328 pages, 6 x 9
35 b&w photos, 23 illus.
Release Date:15 May 2024
Release Date:15 May 2024
Release Date:15 May 2024

Canada and Colonialism

An Unfinished History

UBC Press, Purich Books

Colonialism endures in Canada today. Dismantling it requires understanding how and why Canada’s colonial experience in the British Empire remains unique.

Whereas colonies such as India were ruled through despotism and violence, Canada’s white settler population governed itself while oppressing the Indigenous peoples whose lands they were on. Canada and Colonialism shows that Canadians’ support for colonial rule – both at home and abroad – is the reason colonialism remains entrenched in Canadian law and society today.

Author Jim Reynolds presents a truly compelling account of Canada’s colonial coming of age and its impacts on Indigenous peoples, including the internal colonialism behind the Indian Act and those who enforced it. This book also addresses the historical and ongoing Anglo-Canadian participation in colonial rule and how this perpetuates colonialism. It is this continuing legacy that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission implored Canada to recognize and address before reconciliation and decolonization could take place. As one of Canada’s leading experts in Aboriginal law, Reynolds highlights the historical underpinnings and contemporary challenges Canada must reckon with to move toward decolonization.

This must-read book provides a comprehensive understanding of Canada’s unique colonial history and the decolonization challenges facing the nation. Canada and Colonialism belongs in classrooms, living rooms, boardrooms, and government chambers.

Jim Reynolds makes a significant, original contribution to our understanding of contemporary Canada by situating its colonization within the broader British imperial project. Canada and Colonialism should be read by anyone seeking a deeper understand of the Crown’s historical and ongoing relationship with Indigenous peoples. Kent McNeil, professor emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Jim Reynolds spent over four decades serving as legal counsel to First Nations in Canada, including thirteen years as general counsel for the Musqueam Band. Now retired from active practice, he writes on colonialism and Aboriginal law in Canada. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, where he also taught. His most recent books include Aboriginal Peoples and the Law: A Critical Introduction and From Wardship to Rights: The Guerin Case and Aboriginal Law. He lives in Vancouver, BC.


1 Historical Overview

2 The Essentials of the Empire

3 Self-Rule and Despotism

4 The Rulers and Their Rule

5 Canadian Participation in the Empire

6 Internal Colonialism in Canada

7 Independence, Self-Government, and Reconciliation


Notes; Suggestions for Further Reading; Index

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