08/09/2012 01:20 EDT | Updated 10/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Residential school survivors hope to see bad memories go up in smoke

LA RONGE, Sask. - Residential school survivors in northern Saskatchewan hope to see some bad memories go up in flames.

They've been invited to write their experiences down and put the notes in a replica of a boat that was used to take students from the La Ronge First Nation to the schools.

The boat was pulled and dragged to a burning site behind a reserve school Wednesday.

Gabe McKay, who helped in the boat's construction, says the ceremony is intended to signify the end of a sad era.

He says there are a lot of people who are just starting to heal and burning the boat is a powerful symbol to them.

"By initiating the ending of this boat, by pulling it out of the water, and people seeing that this boat will never go back in the water, once we burn it a lot of the memories will go with it," McKay said.

"Dragging the boat is basically about letting everybody know that once that boat comes out of the water that's ... the end of that era.

"Now is the time for the healing."

The boat was to be burned Thursday afternoon.