Government and missionary schools were seen as the most effective means of assimilating Native peoples into Canadian society, but proponents were inevitably disappointed by the "backsliding" that occurred once the students had returned home to their reserves after schooling was complete. To remedy the situation, W.M. Graham, agent in charge of the reserve at Qu'Appelle, envisaged a model community of individual Native farmers cultivating small plots of land. These farmers would receive intensive supervision and instruction to ensure that their agricultural endeavours thrived. Graham set up his model village on the Peepeekisis Reserve near Indian Head and called it the File Hills Colony. Several individuals became quite successful as farmers, often taking over additional plots of land abandoned by those who were less able to adapt to agricultural life. This success, however, came at the price of intense scrutiny of the personal lives and farm work of those involved and the relinquishment of Native traditions and culture. Although the government and the press lauded the File Hills Colony, its prohibitive costs prevented the Indian Affairs Department from attempting similar projects, and the population of the colony dropped drastically during the Great Depression.

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