Indian Agents were government officials, employed by the Department of Indian Affairs, today called Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. They were mandated by the Indian Act of 1876 to implement federal Indian policy and to manage those people whom the government considered Indians within their respective districts.
Acting as government representatives, Indian Agents tried to implement the Indian Act on reserves, which sought to assimilate Indigenous Peoples into the Canadian nation-state. They monitored everyday affairs on reserves, regulated movement of people onto and off of reserves, and were responsible for overseeing and regulating trade and commerce on reserves. Agents would report back to Ottawa every year on the “progress” Indigenous peoples were making towards becoming assimilated, industrious farmers and workers. This included reports on how many had converted to different types of Christianity and how many remained “pagan.”