Some survivors of Canada's residential schools were haunted by memories as they watched their story told in dance on a stage in Winnipeg.

The new work by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, called Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, is a story about a dark chapter of Canadian history — decades of abuse and attempted indoctrination of thousands of First Nations children.

'That feeling is still there. My wife had to hold my hand in the dark.' - Ted Fontaine

More than 150,000 aboriginal children went through the residential school system, many suffering physical or sexual abuse.

Ted Fontaine, one of those survivors, watched the debut performance Wednesday night at Winnipeg's Centennial Concert Hall.

He said it was moving, but also haunting as it stirred deep memories.

"When I saw the priests come out and, that feeling is still there. It shouldn't be. I should be able to handle that feeling well," he said.

"That feeling is still there. My wife had to hold my hand in the dark."

But Fontaine said the ballet is one of many ways for the story of the residential schools to be told and for its survivors to heal.

"I actually had a lump. I don't understand this medium very well [but] it hit me. I knew what was going on," he said.

Author Joseph Boyden, who wrote the story for the performance, knows it comes with pain.

"And when I say pain, I am talking about children torn from their families and then spit out into the system after they are done," he said.