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Good morning, and welcome to the weekend.

Grab your cup of coffee or tea, and sit down with a selection of this week’s great reads from The Globe and Mail. In this issue, Andrea Woo dives deep into the culture of Australia’s volunteer firefighting network and reports back with lessons Canada can learn.

Andrea and photojournalist Jesse Winter were in Australia for a month to research and write this story, embedded with fire brigades in Victoria and Queensland. The brigades, formed some 150 years ago by farmers and other residents, are still very much powered from the ground up, Woo said, and decision-makers in Australia are unusually mindful of this.

In the latest from Secret Canada, Dean Beeby asks whether this country has gone too far trying to keep its records a secret.

And David Parkinson goes on a quest to find out how much money his childhood collectible Wayne Gretzky rookie card is really worth.

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Australia’s volunteer ‘firies’ offer lessons on taming wildfires in Canada

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Volunteers with the Victoria Country Fire Authority conduct and monitor a prescribed burn along a roadside near a rural community in western Victoria, Australia. Along with fighting wildfires, volunteer brigades like this are responsible for many aspects of wildfire prevention, such as prescribed burns and other types of fuel treatments.

Volunteers with the Victoria Country Fire Authority conduct and monitor a prescribed burn along a roadside near a rural community in western Victoria, Australia, May 26, 2023.Jesse Winter/The Globe and Mail

In Canada, the majority of all firefighters are volunteers, but wildland fire management falls largely under the jurisdiction of provincial and territorial agencies that employ seasonal and full-time employees. However, with the country now experiencing its worst wildfire season of the 21st century, before even the start of summer, some agencies are actively exploring how they can bolster their wildfire response. They could look to Australia – where almost 90 per cent of firefighters are volunteers – for lessons.

Cabinet’s privacy pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction

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Canada has the most restrictive cabinet-secrecy regime of any of our Westminster-style government counterparts.Romain Lasser/The Globe and Mail

The black hole at the heart of Canadian democracy – cabinet secrecy – has come under sharp scrutiny in the past year. And just like a collapsed star, not much illumination is escaping into public discourse. Canada has the most restrictive cabinet-secrecy regime of any of our Westminster-style government counterparts. Even Canada’s own provinces are less secretive about cabinet records. Dean Beeby questions whether Canada’s gone too far trying to keeping records private.

Wayne Gretzky and the making of value

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A variety of Wayne Gretzky hockey cards owned by Jason Martin of Martin Sports Cards, are on display at the Sport Cards and Memorabilia Expo, in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday, November 13, 2022.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

David Parkinson came into possession of the Wayne Gretzky rookie card when he was 15 – not quite old enough to have grown out of buying packs of cards hoping to get one of his heroes, but old enough, and with enough financial means, to pursue collecting the year’s entire set. He’s always known he was holding onto something special – a relic of his childhood, yes, but also something valuable. Now, as the cards sell for millions of dollars, Parkinson goes on a quest to find out just how much it’s really worth.

Ukrainian pastor and ‘Chaplains’ Battalion’ bring help and hope to places other relief groups cannot go

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A morning prayer in "Mariupol Chaplain Battalion" - an non-formal church organisation led by pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko (centre-left), Zaporizhzha, Ukraine, June 14, 2023.Anton Skyba/The Globe and Mail

At the front lines of Ukraine’s war, near the industrial district of the city of Zaporizhzhia, Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko and his followers bring food and prayer to civilians, one of the few volunteer groups brave enough to still approach this part of the battlefront as fighting intensifies, Mark MacKinnon reports. After escaping Mariupol and helping residents there find safe places to stay, the pastor had found himself looking for a way to help the war effort and created what’s come to be known as the “Chaplain’s Battalion.” He sees it as a natural continuation of the work he did in Mariupol. “We really need help from Heaven for this war. We need many, many miracles for our safety.”

The Music Issue: Re-introducing Joni Mitchell

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At Newport is an 11-track set by Joni Mitchell, recorded at the Newport Folk Festival last summer.The Associated Press

Last weekend at the picturesque Gorge Amphitheatre overlooking Washington State’s Columbia River, Joni Mitchell played her first billed concert to a 27,000-strong audience, showcasing the wave of interest among younger fans that started last year when she appeared at Newport Folk Festival alongside Brandi Carlile. For this year’s Music Issue, Max Mertens interviews autobiographers and collaborators who are performing shows with her this year, all who have “drunk at the well of Joni Mitchell,” as one puts it.

Athletes across Canada preparing for the Gay Games

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Vong Sho, official spokesperson for gay, super cute Asians, comedian, Gay Games athlete, June 6, 2023.Aleksandar Antonijevic/The Globe and Mail

Celebrating queer athleticism on a global stage, the Gay Games – held every four years – are back for the first time since before the pandemic. The first Games took place in San Francisco in 1982 with the aim of empowering LGBTQ2S+ athletes and artists through sport, culture and fellowship – and were a huge success, starting with Tina Turner’s performance at the opening ceremony. During the event, 1,350 athletes from 12 countries participated in 17 sports. Rachel Brady speaks to athletes across Canada who are preparing for its grand return.

Start of iceberg season gives Newfoundlanders chilling but thrilling vistas

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A hiker watches icebergs grounded at Spillar's Cove, Twillingate, Newfoundland, Canada, April 23, 2023.GREG LOCKE/Reuters

The icebergs are arriving early this year in Newfoundland – and so are the people. Iceberg tourism in Newfoundland remains popular as people flock to see them every spring. The prime season for iceberg viewing typically starts in late May. But as Angela Capobianco reports, this is one of the biggest years for icebergs since 2017.

The familiar patter of the paterfamilias: A cultural history of the dad joke

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Dad jokes are meant to be like paper: Tearable. And the jokes are as old as the bar the guy keeps walking into, banging his head on it each time. The first documented use of the term, per Merriam-Webster, was in 1987, the same year that the words Generation X and thirtysomething first appeared in print. But what started it all? Benjamin Errett goes on a quest to find out.

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