Written by: Priya Balakumar
Kimberlee Kahrim is a Brown Girl Boss who is excelling in the corporate world while also starting her own spiritual journey called Higher Vibes Tribe. Like many of us, Kim knows that her ancestors were originally from India, but because of the lack of documentation and organization, her family can not pinpoint what region or state. Kim's parents moved to Canada in 1989, with the hopes of giving their children more opportunities. She was born in Toronto, and a few years later, her family settled in Vancouver, Canada.
Kim expressed that as Indo-Trinidadian woman, she did struggle to find her identity and the place where she really fit in.
Kim shares, “I am grateful to have been able to travel back home (Trinidad) many times, so I have a solid foundation and understanding of my culture. But living in Vancouver, however, made living and embodying this culture very difficult.” Like many first-generation Indo-Caribbean women trying to navigate life in Canada and the U.S, Kim struggled with being ‘too Indian’ for some groups and not Indian enough for others. As Kim grew up, she continued to embrace her culture and heritage while learning about the strong and powerful women who stem from the same background as her.
Kim shares, “I loved the richness and the depth of our Indian culture mixed with the colourful and unique history of the Caribbean. I want nothing more to be able to proudly make it known that this is who I am. Through seeing the strong women in my family, and looking up to other powerful women of colour unapologetically speaking their truth, I was encouraged to embrace my own authentic self.”
Being of Indo-Caribbean descent makes us uniquely ourselves. From our culture and food, to our dialects, we have built a strong home away from home.
To be “Indo-Caribbean” means to embrace our strengths and talents. To be proud of the struggles that our forefathers endured to give us the opportunities that we have today. When we asked Kim what it means to her to be Indo-Caribbean, she explained, “It means ensuring that there is space for us in our communities wherever we live. Making sure that we are acknowledged for who we are, without being expected to simply blend into and identify with another culture that is not ours. It means carrying on the traditions of our ancestors, while continuously learning and improving upon them. I am so proud to be an Indo-Caribbean woman and I am honoured in the small role I play in making us known!”
Similar to many industries, women of colour continue to be unfairly disadvantaged and often do not get the same opportunities as their Caucasian co-workers. We are often expected to identify with another culture that is similar to ours, but quite our own. This often leads to our uniqueness being dismissed and overlooked. Kim explained that she has learned that these disadvantages may also present a unique opportunity to educate and make Indo-Caribbean women out there known. Kim shared that throughout her accounting career, she faced many scenarios where she was discriminated against due to her cultural background and colour of her skin. This included a lack of recognition, being dismissed and overlooked, and being unfairly treated. Kim shares that you should never compromise on your values or who you are. As minority women, it may seem easier to just agree with everyone and let others make decisions for you.
However, it is important to stand your ground and to bring your true, authentic self to everything that you do.
Kim says she lives by the saying: “Get rid of the idea that you need to be a certain way or fit a certain mold in order to make it or be successful. Know that YOU can pave your own unique path, different to anyone who has ever done it before. And that isn’t done by dimming your light or being afraid to own who you are – it is done by unapologetically letting your own light shine as bright as it possibly can.”
As with the majority of women of colour, we have unique challenges that we face in the corporate world. Specifically as an Indo-Caribbean woman, what I have found is how difficult it is to be recognized and acknowledged as an Indo-Caribbean woman. But from this, I have learned that when we speak, our voices are amplified— since there are so few to speak up for us anyway. Therefore, what we say, matters. And, how we say it also matters. So although there are times where you may feel powerless or forgotten, know that we can use our authentic truth to speak up and bring awareness to our culture, our heritage, and who we truly are. Being Indo-Caribbean is such a strength, not weakness. We have a grand opportunity to pave the way for other Indo-Caribbean women who come after us.
While trying to overcome these obstacles, Kim made it a point to ensure that her future entrepreneurship ventures would focus on fair treatment and equality of all persons involved.
When Kim started her soul reader + intuitive healer journey, she made it a priority to educate others about spiritual practices in a way that is respectful and acknowledges the origins of where the practices came from (many of which stem from Hinduism). Kim says that this is extremely important to her as an Indo-Caribbean woman, as many of our ancestors believed in these practices. She believes that it is her duty to ensure that they remain sacred and honoured. She shares, “I do my best to make sure that my community remains an inclusive environment. To me, this means ensuring that cultural appropriation does not occur within my programs, and the roots of these practices are respected.” Kim uses her past experience as the drive behind making a change for future generations.
Kim sets a great example of following your heart and doing what you truly believe in. It is common for the elders in our community to want us to secure a traditional “financially stable” job once we are out of school. However, with all the talent and creativity that our young women have, more are breaking down barriers and choosing the entrepreneurship route. Kim is a Chartered Professional Accountant turned entrepreneurial boss. She has decided to take a stand and follow her heart in order to be truly happy with the work she does. Kim shares, “I am grateful that I had the opportunity to get an education and work in my field of study, but at the end of the day, that isn’t what lights me up. I am proud of myself for not letting fear guide me, for overcoming the worry of what others may say or think, and for being courageous enough to take a risk and follow an unconventional path. A path that is true and authentic to me nonetheless. Some may look at me and think these decisions are crazy, but for me, they are some of the best decisions I have ever made!”
Kim’s determination to help others and make a difference is a driving force behind her business venture, Higher Vibes Tribe.
Kim aims to use her platform to be an even bigger voice for the Indo-Caribbean community. She wants to continue to bring awareness to our unique struggles and highlight our unique culture; ensuring that it is never dismissed or forgotten. She says, “I hope to be a beacon of light for those who are struggling. Through me simply living my own authentic life, I want to inspire others to do the same. I want to show others that you CAN accomplish whatever dream or goal you have, as long as you have unwavering faith that it will be yours. It WILL show up in your physical reality as well.”
Check out her business page on Instagram @higher.vibes.tribe