A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 38: King of Hearts: Dreams of a Shepherd Boy
Directed byLindalee Tracey


King of Hearts: Dreams of a Shepherd Boy, traces the remarkable life of Tofy Mussivand, from his humble beginnings as a shepherd boy born in a Kurdish village in the North Mountains of Iran. His love and capacity to learn led him far from this village to the University of Teheran, and in 1965, via a scholarship, to the University of Alberta.

Today, Dr. Tofy Mussivand is one of the world's leading experts on artificial heart technology. As a boy, he dared to dream of changing the world; as a man, he fulfilled his dream.


  • Exploring how a man can rise from very humble roots to become a world leader
  • Examining the Kurdish people within Iranian Society
  • Exploring the developing science of artificial organs


  • Shepherd
  • Iran
  • Kurdistan
  • Heart Transplant
  • Artificial Organs


  • To explore the plight of the Kurdish people, as they wait for their homeland
  • To examine how from humble origins greatness can spring
  • To learn about the development of artificial organs
  • To learn about the contributions made by the Iranians to Canadian society


  1. Once you have learned about the important functions of the heart and how it works, make a simple model . Pretend this is a model for the first artificial heart, and explain all the problems and difficulties you are facing in making it fit in and work in somebody's body. How do you think Dr. Mussivand's education as an engineer AND doctor served him as he worked on developing the artificial heart.

  2. Dr. Tofy Mussivand came from a small Kurdish village in the North of Iran. Who are the Kurdish people? Why are they without a country? What do they consider as their territory? Create a map showing this territory, and from this, explain why so many countries think of the Kurds as threats to their nation. List some of the other areas in the world where "peoples" feel they should have their own homeland.

  3. Dr. Mussivand spent his childhood as a shepherd. Imagine that you are living in the isolated, remote hills of Kurdistan, looking after a flock of sheep, day in and day out. Write a one-week diary, detailing how you spend your hours (the good and the bad), what it looks like where you are, what you think about all day, and what you dream of for your future.

  4. Dr. Mussivand downplays the importance of his humble roots. None-the-less, he has come a long way, like many other people who have overcome their personal hardships and contributed something great to the world. Write an essay about someone you know from your own cultural, ethnic or racial community who has made a difference in the world, not just for what they did, but because of who they are and what they had to overcome. Consider inviting one of these special people to speak to your class to give an "inspirational" talk about how they achieved what they did.

  5. The Kurds are one of many people who want their own homeland to preserve their heritage, to live with people who have the same culture, speak the same language, and have the same "blood ties." In your classroom, debate whether or not you believe all "peoples" (ethnic, racial or religious) should have their own homeland, or live together in multicultural countries like Canada (don't forget to talk about the oppression of minorities in many countries). Also, consider many French Canadians' desire to have their own country. Make contact with a classroom in Quebec, and tell them about your discussions. Ask them what they think about the questions you have debated.

  6. Artificial organs and organ transplants are now able to save the lives of people who years ago would have died. Investigate the history of artificial organs and organ transplants in the last thirty-five years, and write a 500-750 word essay about it, including the role Canada has played, if any. Include in your essay a brief discussion about how some people these days are going to poor countries, like India, to buy themselves life-saving organs (kidneys, for example) from living people who desperately need money