One of the residential schools stills stands in Manitoba, located in Portage la Prairie. It operated from 1916 to 1975.

Many northern Manitoba First Nations children were sent there, including my mother.

Sadie North grew up in the northern remote community of Bunibonibee Cree Nation and rarely saw buildings as big as the one in Portage la Prairie.

And she rarely left her community, let alone her parents to live somewhere else to go school.

She was sent to the residence in 1964 with hundreds of other students from all over the province until it closed in 1975.

"Everything was new. Every step seems to be a challenge to understand," she said.

To help others understand what it was like to be an Indian residential school student, CTV visited the old residence with my mother.

The west side of the top floor was where she and other girls slept in and she walked up to see the old place, she says she felt burdened.

"It seems like my heart is heavy, overwhelmed," she said.

The building is now owned by the Long Plain First Nation and houses offices.

Ruth Roulette looks after archives stored in the basement of the building.

"This is one of the straps that was used to inflict punishment on the students here," said Roulette, another residential school survivor, as she displayed a thick leather rolled up strap.

“I remember getting strapped myself. They asked me how many times I wanted to be strapped. I had a choice," said Roulette.

She remembers asking for five she says, knowing that's all she could stand.

It was one of the ways former students were disciplined for speaking their language or crying to go home to their parents.

For my mother, being lonely is one of the worst memories she has of the place.

Made worse she said as she walked in the building for the first time hearing kids crying before the school administrator ripped off a scarf she was wearing before her long hair was cut off.

"I remember as if he stripped some part of my life and I find myself with low esteem," she added.

That low self-esteem stayed with her and many former Indian residential school students and their families for many years.

“It didn't have to happen that way. Our lives are too valuable,” said North.

She hopes now all former students and their families will find healing and move past the grief to live a happy life like hers.

The Chief of Long Plain First Nation said he plans to turn the former school into a museum.