Treana Moniz was born to drive truck. It’s “in my blood,” says the Kitchener, Ont. operator, who was honoured last night with the Volvo Trucks Canada-OTA Ontario Truck Driver of the Year Award.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Treana was surrounded by trucking culture. Her grandfather drove transport trucks, as did her uncle. Her father operated heavy equipment for the city, while her mother was a server at a local rest stop.
Eventually, a young Treana would also work at a truck stop, where she would meet a professional driver from Canada. They eventually moved north of the border, where they married and had two children.
After she and her now-ex-husband separated and her son and daughter were all grown up, Treana decided to go back to work and got her commercial driver’s licence. But Treana says her aspiration to be behind the wheel was formed decades prior by watching her family and their friends perform an invaluable contribution to their communities.
“It’s always been in me from a young girl,” she says. “What I love most about the industry is the independence. I see a lot of different places. The sites and scenes I have seen have been amazing.”
With over 1.25 million miles without a collision, Treana is among the safest drivers at a company that prides itself as one of the safety fleets in the country. Dave Martin, VP, Eastern Operations at Bison, says that on top of her impeccable safety record, Treana is a consummate professional, a mentor to new drivers and routinely provides input that helps “improve things in our business every day.”
“She is a major contributor,” he says. “Many things that we have in existence today have her fingerprints all over them.”
Treana’s commitment to safety and professionalism isn’t just a line item on a resume; it’s deeply imprinted into her character. When he was 12 years old, she lost an uncle, an aunt who was pregnant, a young cousin who was pregnant; and another aunt was severely injured in a vehicle collision involving two transport trucks.
But rather than let the traumatic event frighten her away from the highway, Treana draws from the incident to be the safest, most professional driver possible; and, more importantly, inspire other drivers to be the same.
“I have been affected from an early age by the importance of safety in the trucking industry,” she says. “Yes, I have seen the worst. But I have also seen the best. And I’m proud to have worked with some of the best.”
Treana is a constant presence in the trucking community. Not only is she on Bison’s Driver Advisory Board and served as an OTA Road Knight, but she is also an image team member in the Women in Trucking organization and has led convoys for Breast Cancer Awareness and the Special Olympics, among other volunteerism.
“She is some kind of superpower; she really is. I don’t know how (else) to explain what Treana is. She always goes way beyond whatever she has to do,” says her safety supervisor, George Sutherland, who also mentions how Treana spent her own time and expense making lunch kits for drivers who had trouble accessing restaurants during COVID; and how, on her time off during that uncertain winter of 2021, she and another driver bought groceries at the supermarket and drove them to various food banks across the GTA.
“She is always the first one to step up,” says Sutherland. “She just gives and gives and gives. She’s an amazing lady.”
Treana says her selflessness and empathy for the less fortunate stems from a time when she too needed help and relied on the generosity of others.
“In my life, I have been homeless,” she says thoughtfully. “I have been without work. I have seen that side of the coin and I today I thank God that this profession was put in front of me and that I was given the ability to do it … and how grateful I am that I have been able to achieve in this great industry, because now I can help too.”