By Micaal Ahmed
A husband, a father, a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, a training officer with Commissionaires — these are just a few words that describe the dynamic life of Russ Treadwell.
Born in Edmonton and raised throughout various cities and towns in Alberta, all Treadwell wanted out of life was to become a police officer. Upon finishing high school in Camrose, Alberta in 2006 at the age of 17, he went to make that childhood dream come true.
“Unfortunately, I was advised that I was too young and that I would need to gain life experience first,” Treadwell explains. “Since law enforcement was the only career goal that I ever had, I had no idea where to go next or how to get there.”
Having been forced to put his dream on hold, Treadwell moved to Edmonton and started working at his Dad’s Zamboni shop (who, in keeping with a family tradition, is also named Russ) as a general laborer.
“Though it was nice to work with my Dad, it wasn’t what I wanted to do for a career,” says Treadwell. “Shortly after, I was watching television when a Canadian Armed Forces commercial came on and I thought, if there was any way to gain life experience, the military would most definitely give me that.”
Russ proceeded to Canada Place to enlist at the DND Recruiting Centre. “I was very quickly accepted and on my way to Wainwright, Alberta, on November 17, 2006 to start my military training.” Ironically, Treadwell’s circle of life would eventually bring him right back to where it all began, as he currently works at that same Canada Place building in Edmonton.
“The military life was a brand new aspect to the Treadwell family as there is no history of us being in the military before, well, no Treadwell that we know of anyway, so with being the first I had no Idea of what to expect, no heads up, or really any idea of what exactly I was getting myself into.”
Treadwell decided to go Army and applied for the infantry. Luck was at his side as all his battle school courses were conducted in Wainwright.
After completing his battle school, Treadwell was posted back to his hometown of Edmonton to the 1st Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (1PPCLI) Charlie Company (C Coy). “This is where I initially found my military family and brotherhood,” he said. “This is the company that helped shape me from the young 18-year-old boy I was into the father and husband I was going to become.”
But his personal life would soon clash with his professional one. “In 2009, I was hit with the biggest life-impacting moments of my life. That year, not only did I find out that we were deploying to Afghanistan and I would have to decide if I was going to sign another contract so I could deploy as my initial three-year contract was coming to an end, but I also found out I was a father.”
On August 3, 2009 Treadwell received a surprise phone call telling him he had a son. “I can’t begin to explain the feeling I experienced when I received that call — it was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced to this day. Going from not knowing what you’re going to eat for breakfast the next morning to finding out you have a son is impossible to describe.”
Not only did Treadwell discover he was a father, he soon learned he would also become the sole provider for his son. In order to be able to give his son everything he would need, Treadwell signed another three-year contract with the CAF. “Needless to say, 2009 was an unforgettable year.”
Treadwell transferred to Bravo Company (B Coy) as C Coy deployed to Afghanistan. “B Coy gave me amazing opportunities to truly grow as a father and as a leader. Between the Primary Leadership Qualification Course (PLQ) and teaching a BMQ (basic military qualifying course), it was an unforgettable experience.”
During work-up training in 2010, his son fell seriously ill so Treadwell spent a lot of time with him in and out of hospital. He was then granted a position in the maintenance shop so it was easier for him to spend time at home with his son if needed.
In 2012 Treadwell decided to transition his police dream to the military dream and he signed another contract and joined Administration Company.
In 2013 the Alberta floods hit and Treadwell was deployed to High River. Afterwards, he realized a hard truth that he had overlooked since 2009. “My son Russell only has one parent. I am supposed to be his Mom and Dad, but while I was away on exercises and fighting floods, he was only being raised by his grandparents and his dayhome. This was not the life I wanted for him.”
“Though I loved the military and wanted to make it my life, I chose to make my son my life instead and I resigned. It was the hardest choice of my life to walk away from my Patricia family. 1PPCLI was all I had ever known my entire adult life and they gave me so many opportunities, so many experiences, and so many memories. I am very grateful and thankful for all the time I had with 1VP and I’m proud to have been called a Patricia.”
After making this difficult decision, Treadwell started his current career where he now works as a Training Officer with Commissionaires.
“I joined Commissionaires in 2014. I had known about Commissionaires before as I had seen them working with us at the Edmonton Garrison. They were very quick to offer me an opportunity as they truly care and value military veterans. I have now been with Commissionaires for over three years, been promoted through several ranks, and I still feel valued and I have grown to love the Company itself and the family that comes with it,” says Treadwell.
“The transition from one uniform to another was actually easier than I thought it would be as there are a lot of veterans who are Commissionaires and we still follow similar rank. So you still get to experience that Army atmosphere which definitely helps, but keep in mind that this is more of a public setting, so you still have to tone it back a bit and keep the darker jokes held in, well, until after work anyway,” he says in jest.
Happy with where he is now, Treadwell doesn’t know where life will take him next, but for the moment, he’s content. He might eventually again try to pursue becoming a police officer, because some childhood dreams never really do go away.