Having always lived within a like-minded, like-looking community, discourse about race and color rarely made it to my everyday conversations. But then things changed when I moved to Toronto a year ago. Not only was I having eye-opening, eye-popping conversations, but I was experiencing them too — like I did on a date that quickly took a turn for the worse.
Here’s how it went: On a warm, sunny day, I was hit by a hypothetical train when the person I was with commented on a person of color (which also made me question: Does he not see mine?) who was cleaning up the place: “No wonder this place is dirty; all the immigrants want to come to Canada, but they have no clue on how to do things the right way.”
Rather than shutting him down, I was shocked and confused: “Is this some sort of Canadian humor that I know nothing about?” Thankfully no; of course, not. But that’s not what I said out loud; in fact, I said nothing at all. Why? I doubted my voice and lost the opportunity to help make a wrong, right. A problem a friend, too, faced when she started work:
The main challenge for me, especially as a young female actor, was being able to recognize the sound of my own voice and, in turn, use it to express what I felt was right and what was not. It hasn’t always been easy to accept my own unique value rather than seeking validation from the people who would hopefully « choose » me. I’ve learned over the years that it is important to pave my own path with like-minded people.
If you, too, frequently sail in the boat of self-doubt, afraid to speak your mind, then today’s medicinal dose of inspiration comes in the form of Dr. Nekessa Remy.
Chiropractor, a registered and medical acupuncturist and owner of Mississauga’s The Chiropractic Office, Dr. Remy knows all too well what it means to doubt your seemingly small yet mighty voice. What she also knows quite well is standing up for yourself.
Q1. As a woman of color, what were the challenges you had to overcome to get to where you are now?
When you are a black woman working in the financial industry, you are often in meetings or events in which you are the only black woman in the room. This isn’t something new for me, it’s been that way since I was a kid. The biggest challenge for me is that I often feel the pressure to represent my entire race when in these situations. Any mistake I make ends up reflecting poorly on other black women in the same space. The pressure to be the most successful, the most articulate, the most experienced can be exhausting.
From a young age, you are taught that in order to get a seat at that hypothetical ‘table’ as a black woman, you must work harder than any of your counterparts. For me, my biggest obstacle was myself. I always doubted my abilities and just assumed that I would never get that seat.
As I built my confidence and gained more experience as an entrepreneur I realized that yes, I do have to work hard but I am just as smart, just as articulate and have as much experience as everyone else and I deserve to be where I am today.
Q2. What were the key factors that shaped your decision to pursue a career as a health and wellness expert?
My first introduction to chiropractic was through a meeting with Dr. Nicole Gordon. This was a memorable meeting for me, not just because she was the first chiropractor I had met, but because it was the first time I had met a black female doctor. Having graduated from university with a degree in Kinesiology I knew I wanted a career in health and wellness, but I wasn’t sure where to go. Meeting Dr. Gordon was a defining moment because it introduced me to chiropractic. She was using her hands, not medication, not surgery, to help people feel better, move better and ultimately live healthier lives.
Q3. If you were to give basic, often disregarded, ways to keep healthy what would they be?
Learn to breathe with your diaphragm. Also, get adequate sleep, roughly 7-8 hours every night, to aid your body in recovery.
Avoid sitting for more than 60 minutes at one time. Getting up every hour, even for just 20-30 seconds, can help prevent spinal injuries.
When in doubt use ice instead of heat. Ice helps with swelling, inflammation and most acute injuries; whereas, heat helps with muscle tightness and stiffness.
Just because your pain is gone does not mean you are healed. Pain is not a good indication that an injury has fully healed; function is the best indication that an injury has resolved.
Although acupuncture has been around for thousands of years there are still many misconceptions about this therapy. First of all, acupuncture does not hurt! You may feel a pinch when the needles go in, but other than that, acupuncture is quite comfortable.
Not only is it not painful, but acupuncture can be used to treat everything from headaches to digestive issues, to infertility.
Q4. What’s the best thing that’s never happened to you? A dream that never came true, but for the best?
Early in my career, I was given the opportunity to become the lead practitioner at a very busy multidisciplinary clinic in Mississauga. I was excited at this opportunity as it meant more of a leadership position plus an increase in my paycheque. Shortly after I took the position, the owner of the clinic made some policy changes to the clinic that I did not agree with. I made my opinion clear, but the changes were out of my control. I decided to stay and continue to work there as I had built a very busy practice and loved the practitioners I worked with.
However, as the changes continued I, sadly, did not feel comfortable working there. I had to leave what I thought, was my dream job. After deciding to leave I wanted to make sure my patients were still cared for, so I made the decision to start my own practice in a small gym nearby. I had no idea how to run a business, but I knew that my patients needed me. Within a few months, I opened, The Chiropractic Office. It was an extremely steep learning curve, but it turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. It really is my second home and earlier this month we celebrated eight years in business.
Q5. Being alongside such inspirational women in HERstory campaign, what was your biggest takeaway?
One of the most amazing things happening in Toronto right now is the growing number of black women pursuing their passions and succeeding in their respective fields, while supporting each other through various networking groups. Over the last few years, I have attended events run by Emily Mills, creator of HERstory. Through her How She Hustles events, she brings together women from various backgrounds to celebrate achievements as well as educate women on how to be successful in life and business. The rest I guess, is Herstory.
What I remember most was just how historic it was. Never has a larger group of black women, 150 to be exact, been celebrated before within our country. The comradery of all the women and the sheer joy in celebrating each other’s success was one of the best experiences of my life.
Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.