Upon gaining independence from Britain in 1962, it was decided that Trinidad and Tobago should have its own National Awards – a departure from the nation’s longstanding involvement in the system of Commonwealth Awards conferred by Her Majesty the Queen of England. The National Awards were first given in 1969.

There is a National Awards Committee, headed by the Chief Justice, which oversees the nomination process and investigates the nominees before making its recommendations to the Prime Minister. Any person or organization may submit a nomination to the National Awards Committee, of a citizen for a National Award.

The President confers the awards, “on the advice of the Prime Minister given after consideration of the recommendation of the Advisory Committee.” The awards are made “by Instrument signed by the President and sealed with the Seal of the Order.” The President hosts the National Awards Ceremony annually on Republic Day, September 24th.

The existing National Awards are: The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Gold; The Chaconia Medal in Gold, Silver and Bronze; The Hummingbird Medal in Gold, Silver and Bronze; the Public Service Medal of Merit in Gold, Silver and Bronze and the Medal for the Development of Women in Gold, Silver and Bronze