American-Born Canadian Teen Qia Gunster Has Lived His Whole Life Without Identity

| by Allison Geller

Qia Gunster, an 18-year-old living in Canada, is struggling to find his identity.

He has none.

Qia’s mother brought him from Arizona across the Canadian border as a baby—with no birth certificate or any identification.

“It is like I was born on the moon,” he told The Province from Prince George in British Columbia.

Qia is studying to become an electrician, but he has reached an impasse in his life. Without ID proving where he’s from and who he is, his options are severely limited.

“To get a job, to get a driver’s license, to travel anywhere outside Canada, I need ID,” he said. “I’m stuck.”

Qia’s mother made it to McBride in British Columbia in the mid-90s with her son and boyfriend. They lived there on a bus. She was afraid to go back to the States for fear of having her child taken from her, but she couldn’t raise the child alone. Eric Gunster agreed to take Qia into his own family as his “adopted” son.

“We liked kids,” he said. “We already had four kids. We wanted to help out.”

At times the family worried that Qia would be deported—except that there is no country to deport him to.

“No country would take him. No one can prove where he was born,” said Eric Gunster.

After reaching several dead ends in trying to get Qia and ID, a local politician, MP Bob Zimmer, has taken on Qia’s quest for status.

“This is a complicated file which involves two governments and the processes necessary to complete the required documentation,” the politician’s office wrote in a statement. “Mr. Zimmer is in full support of Qia and looks forward to the completion of his application for citizenship.”

Meanwhile Qia is finishing high school and his electrician’s apprenticeship. Becoming an adult is a struggle for everyone—but most people have some proof of who they are.

“I’m just as confused as anyone about this,” Qia said. “How can someone get into this situation and have no way out?”