At the age of five, Mary Couchaine was enrolled in a residential school. She is a native of Sakgeen First Nation, now known as Fort Alexander. Mary is a second-generation survivor of residential schools. She, like her mother before her, was not allowed to speak her traditional language. She experienced physical punishment and emotional abuse. Shame was a tool used to enforce rules. Mary was forced to stand on a table in the cafeteria and ask for forgiveness after she questioned a superior nun.
Mary's residential school experience shaped her relationship with her children. She still suffers from insomnia due to her traumatic experience.