'Grace' the albino squirrel turning heads in Fort Simpson

It was three winters ago that Keyna Norwegian first saw the white creature running across her lawn in Fort Simpson, N.W.T. Her husband thought it was a weasel, but Norwegian wasn't convinced.

‘I seen this white thing running and I said ‘what?!’ said Keyna Norwegian

A rare photo of a rare species: 'Grace' the albino squirrel in Fort Simpson, N.W.T. (submitted by Keyna Norwegian)

It was three winters ago that Keyna Norwegian saw the white creature running across her lawn in Fort Simpson, N.W.T.

"And I asked my spouse, Gabe, 'Hey does a squirrel turn white in the winter?' and he looked at me crazy and said 'No, they don't turn colour! They stay the same colour.'"

Gabe thought maybe it was a weasel she'd seen.

"I said no it's a squirrel, it runs like a squirrel, it looks like a squirrel," Norwegian insisted.

But by then the elusive creature was gone — not to be seen again until a year later, when Norwegian's neighbour Beverly caught sight of the rare albino squirrel and snapped a photo of it — finally proving its existence.

Nowadays, Norwegian sees "Grace" almost daily.

"I have a sister Grace that lives in Ontario," she explained about the name.

"Of course we miss her every day, and so she came to visit this fall and I was talking about this squirrel and I said I'm going to name it Grace because it looks like Grace!

"It's beautiful."

Spirit animal?

Norwegian told her mother — an elder — about the animal and she had never seen or heard of an albino squirrel.

Norwegian believes it could be her spirit animal.

"I feel that every time," she said.

"Everybody has some hard days and when I go outside, I do my prayers and when it shows up I say 'thank you, mahsi.' And I talk to the squirrel, I appreciate it and I let the squirrel know."

Norwegian didn't tell anyone about the squirrel for a long time because she wanted to protect it — but since it's lived this long, she's confident it can handle the media attention.

with files from Lawrence Nayally, Peter Sheldon