A leading member of the Commonwealth Youth Council has become the youngest ever senator in Trinidad and Tobago’s history.
Nikoli Edwards, aged 25, was sworn in as a temporary independent senator by the country’s President, Anthony Carmona on 11 January 2017.
In his maiden speech to the Senate, Mr Edwards spoke of the importance of young people having a voice in creating national legislation.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am to be addressing this honourable chamber,” Mr Edwards said. “For me, and to many other young people across Trinidad and Tobago, this signals hope. It signals that there is in fact opportunity for young people.”
The young senator was speaking during a Senate debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Marriage) Bill 2016, during which he argued passionately against early marriage.
In Trinidad and Tobago’s Senate, independent senators are selected by the President as representatives of civil society. Mr Edwards was appointed as a temporary senator while a permanent senator is out of the country.
In a statement, Mr Edwards said, “By allowing a youth voice to occupy the independent bench of the Senate, my appointment has demonstrated the commitment by President Carmona to the youth of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I hope to bring a youth and civil society perspective to the Senate that is informed by my interactions with many youth organisations and individuals across the country and the Commonwealth.”
Mr Edwards was elected to the Commonwealth Youth Council in November 2015 and serves as Vice Chair for Policy, Advocacy and Projects. He is also founder and chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Convention.
Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said, "Nikoli is to be congratulated on his achievement. It is wonderful to see the passion with which he is already advocating on issues that are important to young people.
“We hope to see more Commonwealth young leaders moving into positions where they can directly influence policy in their countries."
Watch Nikoli Edwards’s maiden speech in the Senate:
Photo credit: Andrei J Pierre