For the first time in 26 years, people walking in Vancouver to raise awareness about violence against women will do so knowing the federal government has committed to a public inquiry for murdered and missing women.

And along with that, Canada's new federal Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould will walk as well.

"She has attended in previous years as well but there is a great significance in the fact that she holds such a high profile and position in this country," said Fay Blaney, a co-chair of the Women's Memorial March.

The federal government has been holding planning sessions to collect feedback on the scope of an inquiry, but Blaney wants to make sure it does not solely focus on healing for families who have lost loved ones.

"Ultimately that means focusing on past cases and what we're talking about is women that are currently experiencing violence," said Blaney. 

"We believe that indigenous women are at high risk just by virtue of the fact that we're indigenous women."


Jody Wilson-Raybould has attended the Women's Memorial March seven times, however this will be her first as the federal minister of justice. ((CBC))

Wilson-Raybould says this is the seventh time she will participate in the Women's Memorial March.

"Through the years I have seen the number of participants steadily increase," she said in a statement provided by her office.

"This increase is a testament to the devotion and activism of the marches volunteers and organizers, including the families affected by this serious issue. Together they have worked tirelessly to raise national awareness‎."

Wilson-Raybould says her government is committed to broadly hearing all voices on the issue of violence against women.

"A priority for our government  is to create a pathway for substantive and true reconciliation with indigenous peoples in this country," said the statement.

"Through the inquiry, we remember and honour the lives of  missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and recognize that we must find a balance between learning from our past, reviewing our present and making concrete, actionable recommendations for the future, so that we can bring an end to this national tragedy."

The 2016 Women's Memorial March begins at noon on Sunday, at Main and Hastings streets.