Local police told reporters that when the man tried to cut Noman's hijab the first time she had turned and confronted him, making loud noises to scare him off and then she ran away with her little brother.
"For those of us who wear a head scarf, it's like we have a target on us", said Amira Elghawaby, a human rights advocate based in Ottawa.
11 year old Kahawlah Noman was walking to school when a man dressed in black came up behind her, pulled off her hood and started cutting. During the press conference, she had a left a message for her attacker.
"What you're doing is really wrong, you should not act like this, and especially, I'm a kid", she said, addressing her attacker directly at one point.
The outrage that two young, innocent, Canadian kids could face such an ugly attack over a hijab clearly struck a nerve. "I want her and her family and her friends and community to know that that is not what Canada is".
Police were called shortly afterward.
Toronto police are treating the incident as a hate crime but have yet to make any arrests. "I can't imagine how afraid she must have been", he said.
Toronto police lauded Khawlah's quick thinking and response to the attack, with Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu saying she was "very, very smart" for shouting and joining the group of students ahead of her. Sidhu said this is "an isolated incident", such that she has never seen in her 20 years of service.
Sidhu called the girl's actions "brave and smart".
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird told CBC Toronto that police and the student's family was immediately contacted after Khawlah reported what happened to school officials.
The school has brought in social workers for the children to speak with, if they wish to do so.
Police described the suspect as a medium-built Asian man in his 20s.
At the time of the attack, he was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt, black trousers, brown gloves, and had prescription glasses with black frames on his face, police said.
Mayor Tory added: "I am shocked and appalled to learn a student wearing a hijab was assaulted on the way to school...no child should ever be afraid walking to school in Toronto because of what they are wearing". Anyone who can help with further information should Toronto Police or Crime Stoppers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed a similar sentiment, stressing that this "is not who Canadians are".
Wynne tweeted: "This is a cowardly act of hatred, and it has no place in Ontario. Intolerance and hate of any kind, including Islamophobia, has no place in our city, our province, or our country".
"It's just not Canada", she said.