The victim, Scott Jones, was found lying on a downtown New Glasgow street at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.
Jones was walking with a friend at the time of the attack.
"He was walking with a friend ... two men, who had previously been at the bar we were at, came running across the street. One of the men distracted Scott's friend and the other man stabbed Scott twice in the back and tried to slit his throat," Amy Punke, one of Jones' friends said.
Jones was airlifted to the hospital, and although the stabbing to his throat was superficial, the attack left his spinal cord severed.
He is now paralyzed from the waist down, the CBC said, and is in critical but stable condition.
Punke said Jones was attacked because he is gay.
"He's very open about his sexuality," she said. "Just the nature of the evening and the people that we were with and the fact that he was targeted out of all of us."
Police are investigating the incident.