Lissa Cancilla is a counsellor and history teacher at Revelstoke Secondary School. Sometimes she uses puppets. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Lissa Cancilla is a counsellor and history teacher at Revelstoke Secondary School. Sometimes she uses puppets. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Inspiring women: RSS counsellor Lissa Cancilla prioritizes continuous learning and connection

This story is from our series on inspiring women in Revelstoke in celebration of International Women’s Day.

When students come to her office seeking counsel, Lissa Cancilla tells them to strive for meaningfulness rather than just aiming for happy all the time.

“That is a deeper, longer lasting goal,” she said.

Often quoting Viktor Frankl and his book Man’s Search for Meaning, she encourages students to seek out connection and love for fellow humans rather than only momentary bursts of joy.

She asks the teens which person they spend the most time with in their life. While some say their mom, the answer Cancilla is looking for is “myself.”

“Often I sit here and say, ‘The journey to know yourself in high school is more important than any course you are going to take,’” she said.

READ MORE: Inspiring women: 120 years later, first female CAO appointed in Revelstoke

Cancilla moved to Revelstoke, 24 years ago from New Brunswick with her husband, who is also a teacher.

“We came out here on an adventure,” she said.

“But it was strategic, we knew there were jobs out here.”

The two had previously spent time in B.C., finishing their education practicums in Terrace and taking the opportunity to give out resumes and do interviews.

“We missed our graduation but we came back with jobs,” Cancilla said.

For three years they worked for the Prince Rupert School District in a float plane access community on an island.

“I think it really taught us what is precious in life,” she said.

They moved back to New Brunswick to have their first child, when her partner received a job offer in Revelstoke.

“We had no idea where Revelstoke was, we had never been here,” she said.

Though they had a permanent job offer with the Prince Rupert School District, they decided to move to Revelstoke.

She can vividly remember driving across the bridge in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick when they announced that the mill was closing in Prince Rupert and just breathing a sigh of relief, knowing they had made the right decision to end their contracts there.

Compared to remote island life, Revelstoke was a metropolis.

Being able to go to the store to get tea when we ran out was a thrill, she recalled with a laugh.

They were also able to purchase an acreage, which allowed them to have horses and raise chickens to sell eggs as their kids grew up.

When their kids were in high school, Cancilla returned to work, putting her master’s degree in history and Indigenous studies to use.

She stepped into the counselling role at Revelstoke Secondary School four years ago.

“I really, truly do feel very privileged and blessed to have a number of passions that I can work towards,” she said. “I love teaching.”

But, the most rewarding part of her career is the constant learning.

“As I get older I want to stay current, to stay in the know of things that are happening around me and kids do that,” she said.

Of course, COVID has thrown a wrench into things, but for the most part she sees the silver lining.

“Feeling like you are going through something together is better than feeling like you are alone with it,” she said.

READ MORE: Inspiring women: It was a men’s world – until Revelstoke’s Mary Clayton broke into it



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

International Women's Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Lissa Cancilla is a counsellor and history teacher at Revelstoke Secondary School. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Lissa Cancilla is a counsellor and history teacher at Revelstoke Secondary School. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Just Posted

West Kelowna firefighters practice swiftwater rescue techniques in the Shuswap River in Cherryville April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
West Kelowna firefighters make a splash in North Okanagan

Swift water rescue training brings team to Cherryville’s Shuswap River

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Morning Start: Nearly 1 billion tonnes of food was wasted in 2019

Your morning start for Friday, April 23, 2021

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Interior Health and Pathways Addictions Resources warned April 22, 2021 of drugs in Penticton contaminated with the animal tranquilizer Xylazine. It’s not known what kind of substances may contain Xylazine or what they may look like. (File photo)
Dangerous animal tranquilizer found in test sample of Penticton street drugs

It’s not currently known what kind of substances may contain the animal tranquilizer

Murder Mystery Night May 13.
Kelowna BC SPCA hosts Virtual Murder Mystery Night

The fundraiser will take place May 13

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Summerland Ornamental Gardens will hold its spring plant sale online. The sale begins May 1. (Contributed)
Summerland Ornamental Gardens to hold online plant sale

Variety of plants available through fundraising event

Nic Hume and his fellow paramedic stopped to rescue the victim of an Oak Bay hit-and-run – a duck – at the end of their shift Thursday morning. (Nic Hume/Facebook)
B.C. paramedics don’t duck a chance to help someone in need

Ambulance duo end a long shift by helping a distressed duck in Victoria suburb

This cougar alert was posted near Chilliwack after a cougar was reported in the area on April 10, 2021. (Black Press - File)
Children and pets warned to stay inside after second cougar attack in South Okanagan

The Penticton Indian Band council is working with the Natural Resources Department to contain the animal

As the snow in Manning Park melts, searchers are able to get a little farther each day. Photo submitted
Family resumes search for son missing in B.C.’s Manning park since October

‘This is our child, and we don’t give up on our children,’ said mother of Jordan, Josie Naterer

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man dies after Okanagan Connector rollover

A passenger survived and is being treated in hospital for his injuries

Most Read